Ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs complete domination of Washington’s football team Sunday, a Kansas City restaurant owner used a storefront sign to urge the Chiefs to victory in the most racist of ways. The sign, outside a Sonic chain, promised that the Chiefs would “scalp the Redskins, feed them whiskey,” and “send 2 reservation.”
A Twitter user posted an image of the sign Sunday morning:
— Delores Schilling (@DelSchilling) December 8, 2013
Sonic’s corporate office apologized Sunday. “The remarks posted on this message board were wrong, offensive and unacceptable,” Patrick Lenow, vice president of public relations at Sonic, said in a statement to NBC News. “In a misguided effort to support his football team an independent franchise owner allowed passion to override good judgment. The owner has reinforced with his employees the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable. On behalf of the franchise owner and our entire brand we apologize for the offensive remarks.”
The name of Washington’s football team has been the subject of scrutiny all year as Native American groups have increased efforts to draw attention to the offensive nature of it. Washington isn’t alone: the use of Native American imagery is being questioned in other major sports leagues and at the high school level too — this week, the city of Houston’s school district is considering a ban on all names and mascots that use Native American imagery. But while proponents of these names, including NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Washington owner Daniel Snyder, maintain that they are meant to honor Native Americans, groups like the Oneida Nation and National Congress of American Indians argue that the name is obviously racist and only serves to perpetuate harmful stereotypes of Native Americans by portraying them simply as sports mascots.
This sign is the latest example that validates their point. When the mainstream view of Native Americans is as sports mascots, it’s easy to put up what one anthropologist called a “shockingly racist” sign without realizing that it is offensive to a segment of American society that does, in fact, exist outside of football logos and team names.
Kudos, at least, to Sonic for not defending the sign as a symbol of “strength, courage, pride, and respect.”