Category Archives: racism

Caution: The “R Word” is a Matter of Human Rights

by Pat Shelly

 

Last week’s decision denying patent protection to a football team’s racist mascot image is progress of a sort.

But for Hilary Weaver, professor of Social Work at the University at Buffalo, the “R word” has impact far outside the sports arena.

Blog weaverHilary reporterPhoto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Please note that due to the offensive nature of the name of the Washington D.C. NFL football team, I use the “R word” throughout. External links, however, may use it).

 

The “R Word’s” Painful Legacy

The “R word” is still in daily use. And so are the effects of its painful legacy. Hilary Weaver (Lakota) is  professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Social Work, University at Buffalo (UB). She was interviewed by the UB Reporter about the U.S. Patent Office decision to deny trademark protection for a racist sports team logo. She spoke about what the “R word” means for her family.

 

Shortly after joining the UB faculty, she attended a conference at a local hotel. The Buffalo Bills, Buffalo’s professional football team, were playing the Washington D.C. team. “Welcome R——-” read a huge banner in the hotel, where the visiting team was housed.

 

Years later, she and her two children attended a Buffalo Bisons baseball game. The opposing team was named the Indians. The home town fans’ verbal abuse of all things Indian was insulting and hateful. Her efforts to instill pride in her children about their Native American ancestry were being challenged by this overwhelming display of hostility.

 

In the beginning of a Buffalo News Buffalo News interview with Weaver, columnist Don Esmonde writes, “Of course it is personal. How could it not be?…Yes, it’s personal when [she] is raising two kids in what she hopes will be a more tolerant, less ignorant America. [And] finally, it was in-your-face personal, the time when Weaver’s world collided head-on with [owner of the Washington D.C. football team] Dan Snyder’s racial myopia.”

 

Why the “R Word” is a Matter of Human Rights

We are all entitled to our human rights, including those pertaining to protection against discrimination and hate speech:

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