Leaders of the effort to change the name of Washington’s football team have attempted to highlight the fact that it is a “dictionary-defined slur” by asking a simple question: would anyone, including team owner Daniel Snyder, call a Native American a “redskin” to his face?
83 percent of respondents to a new poll said they would not.
The poll, released last week, was conducted by ORC International for the Change The Mascot campaign and goodness Mfg., a marketing firm that has partnered with the National Congress of American Indians on other projects around the team name issue. It is based on an 1,020 online interviews conducted over four days in August.
The poll found a generational divide when it comes to opposition of the name: half of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 34 saw the name as offensive, compared to just 34 percent of those over 35. And almost twice as many of those between 18 and 34 were aware of the name’s status as a dictionary-defined slur than those of older ages.
There is, however, a divide also between finding the name offensive and thinking it should be changed. While 83 percent said they’d never use the word to a Native American’s face and 39 percent overall said it was offensive to Native Americans, just 25 percent said the name should change.
As Native Americans continue to fight the name, though, that may change. The poll showed that most respondents were aware of the battle over the name, and the 25 percent overall opposition is higher than in some older polls conducted around the issue. 35 percent of the 18-to-34 age group said it should be changed, and the poll also found that 13 percent of respondents changed their opinion of whether the team should keep it once they learned it was defined as a slur.
“Our study proves how important context is to behavior. On one hand, group mentality makes people think using the r-word is okay. But on the other hand, when a person comes face to face with a Native American, it’s not,” said D’nae Kingsley, the head of integrated strategy at goodness Mfg. “This dichotomy can be explained by several factors including fan blindness and lack of awareness of the definition of the r-word.”