The events in Charlottesville ignited a fierce national debate on the merits of symbols commemorating the Confederacy and its leaders. But statues of Robert E. Lee and flags modeled after that of the Confederacy aren't America's only reminders of its racist past.
The Washington Redskins' namesake has its origins in a racial slur used by pioneers of the American West to describe Native Americans. Predictably, this ugly reality is a source of seemingly constant controversy, and the debate is brought back to the forefront nearly every time any entity of note takes a stand against it. The most notable example of this came when a federal judge canceled the Redskins' trademark because of its disparaging nature, a ruling now in jeopardy after a Supreme Court ruling late last year.
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been adamant that the name actually honors Native American heritage and has been clear that he has no plans to change it so long as he's in charge.
Green Acres School in North Bethesda, Md.—about 20 miles from the Redskins' FedEx Field— doesn't have a national profile nor the platform of a federal judge. Still, the school's recent decision to ban students from wearing Washington Redskins gear to school is sure to evoke strong feelings on both sides of the issue.
Neal M. Brown, the head of school for Green Acres released a letter explaining the schools decision.
"The local football team has been around a long time and has experienced great successes; loyalty to this beloved team and passion for the game of football are understandably strong among many of our students, families, and staff members," the letter reads. "Clearly, there is nothing wrong with rooting for one’s team.
"At the same time, the term “Redskin” is a racial slur. Its use, whether intentional or not, can be deeply insulting and offensive. It is a term that demeans a group of people. Similarly, the team’s logo also can reasonably be viewed as racially demeaning. At best, the image is an ethnic stereotype that promotes cultural misunderstanding; at worst, it is intensely derogatory.
"As such, having students or staff members on campus wearing clothing with this name and/or this team logo feels profoundly at odds with our community’s mission and values."
The letter also says that students of differing ages raised the issue to the administration during their studies of Native Americans.
According to its website, Green Acres School is a school for children aged 3 through eighth grade and was the first racially integrated school in Montgomery County.