The 2017 football season started with the Philadelphia Eagles beating the team from Washington handily, 30–17. The loss marked Washington’s first regular season game since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law blocking the team from trademarking the “Redskins” name and logo was unconstitutional. Accordingly, this season has once again prompted Native people, sports fans, and decent human beings alike to wonder: Why the hell is it all right for the team to flaunt such a ridiculously racist name in the 21st century?
In part, the tolerance for the Washington team’s patently offensive name and logo comes from its normalization. TV stations use it. Newspapers use it (although some are starting to wise up). And, for the second year in a row, Twitter has gotten in on the action as well, with a cheeky hashtag that pushes the team’s caricatured Native American logo into hapless users’ feeds, whether they’re watching football or not.
Did you catch it?
Any user who tweets an abbreviation of the team’s “Hail to the Redskins” motto (which...yeesh) will automatically see their message appended with an emoji of the team’s logo. Here’s what it looks like in action:
In some sense, Twitter’s hands here are tied. The Washington team’s logo, and its emojification, is part of a larger push launched last year that offers each franchise its own unique icon. But as a company that has struggled to address the pernicious racism that has infected its user base, one would think that Twitter might be more sensitive to pushing out an image widely heralded as offensive. I have reached out to a Twitter representative to learn more about the decision to include the team’s logo in their auto-emoji roster, and will update this story with their response.
Here’s an idea: Twitter simply says “no, we won’t push this racist logo into people’s feeds.” Sure, it’d piss off a chunk of users, but in the year 2017, standing up to instances of racism-for-profit is both long overdue and more necessary than ever.
Then again, it’s Twitter, and it’s the NFL, so I won’t hold my breath.