When Washington football team owner Daniel Snyder was quoted in USA Today as saying he would NEVER change the name of the franchise that is a dictionary-defined racial slur, I posted on my Facebook page that I would NEVER root for my hometown team until the racist name changes and that until then I would become a Baltimore Ravens fan.
So I gave up the burgundy and gold for the purple and black. RG3 for Flacco. A soulless suburban stadium in Landover for the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium in downtown Baltimore. Dysfunction for class. Perpetual losing for a Super Bowl ring. And most importantly, an awful name and logo for a name and logo that everyone can cheer for.
One of the reasons I chose the Ravens to root for is that I consider Baltimore a part of the Washington area -- the Washington-Baltimore region. Growing up in Northern Virginia, I cheered on the Orioles. I would head north on 95 or take the train up to Charm City and watch baseball games at Memorial Stadium and then Camden Yards. I was living in Southern California in 2005 when the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals and I instantly became a fan. But I never gave up my American League allegiance to the O's with the Nats being my National League team.
So it should be natural for a Washingtonian to root for the Ravens as a local team to be proud of instead of being ashamed and embarrassed that a football team with a racial slur name represents the nation's capital.
It should also be noted that you don't have to be Native American to be offended by the name. All races and ethnicities should be appalled that the R word is still accepted in 2013. I'm not Native American. I am Jewish-American however so am extra sensitive to discriminatory language being used against a persecuted minority given our history. Also, that Snyder is Jewish as well makes his intransigence and insensitivity even worse.
Since it has become painfully clear that the Washington football team organization from Snyder on down and the majority of fans have no intention to budge even an inch on the name, I have found the best protest is not necessarily to keep posting to social media about the latest developments on the name controversy -- although that is important as it keeps the issue on the radar when the NFL, the team and the fans would like nothing more than for the issue to go away -- but to proudly wear my Ravens hat and t-shirt everywhere I go in the D.C. area and not talk about the D.C. football team unless it has to do with changing the name.
The more Snyder and the team are marginalized, the more the movement will grow to change the name. The losing season this year has helped increase the negativity surrounding the team, which is important because if the losing continues and chorus for a name change grows louder, some fans will start to consider a name change as part of a fresh start for the organization to remove the stink of losing.
For me, it is not just enough to make institutions "Redskin free zones" as two local rabbis have called for their schools and synagogues to be and which a D.C. public school -- Wilson high school -- is considering banning R word apparel. For me, I take it a step further by not only shaming anyone still wearing the racist name and logo by going on the offense and displaying my Baltimore Ravens gear.
After all, wouldn't you rather be associated with a name inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Raven" than a name coined by a rabid racist like George Preston Marshall that was at one time used to describe the bloody scalps of dead indigenous women and children?