The Washington Redskins, like many professional sports teams, participated in the widespread “Blackout Tuesday” social media campaign to address racial injustice.
But the NFL franchise’s team name has been criticized as being racist to the Native American community for decades.
That meant Tuesday’s tweet on the team page prompted a backlash, with many responses calling for the team to change its name and criticizing the franchise for being hypocritical.
“Want to really stand for racial justice? Change your name,” tweeted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was among the high-profile names to respond to the Redskins’ afternoon tweet.
The #BlackOutTuesday hashtag and black squares campaign came in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in custody of the Minneapolis police. The hashtag, originated by the music industry and picked up by a majority of celebrities and sports figures, aimed to pause normal postings and reflect on a better way to empathize with and evoke change for the African-American community.
The Redskins organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment made by USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday morning.
The Redskins changed their name from the Braves in 1933 and have been the target of protests by Native American groups and others for the past four decades. Owner Dan Snyder, a Redskins fan since childhood, has continually refused to change the team name since purchasing the team in 1999 despite numerous court battles.
A 2004 poll that surveyed self-identified Native Americans across the country found that only 9% were offended by the team name. However, a 2019 poll of similar nature showed an overwhelming majority of Native Americans surveyed were bothered by the team name, finding it offensive.
The National Congress of American Indians of the United States (NCAI) has called for the Redskins to not return to play until the team changes its name.
Former President Barack Obama said in 2013 of the Redskins: “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”