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Race: Are we so different

A blog looking at the changing face of race around our region, created in cooperation with Pacific Science Center, the University of Washington Department of Communication and the City of Seattle Race and Justice Initiative

November 7, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Race project | Racism never felt real until now

As a sports consumer, I am aware of the controversy surrounding the use of certain team logos, such as the Washington Redskins using an American Indian image. I never thought much of it until I came across a display at the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit, watched the video related to the issue, and read through the thoughts left behind by those who had also seen this display.

Redskins_Name_Football

Representatives of the Oneida have requested a meeting with all 32 NFL owners during Super Bowl week, hoping to persuade them to get the Washington franchise to drop the nickname Redskins. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano)

Displeasure, sadness, confusion: these were among the emotions I could see in people’s handwriting. The emotions expressed were all palpable. Perhaps that’s why I shed a couple of tears. There’s something about reading actual writing that made the experience personal.

Judging by the penmanship, I would guess that elementary-school students filled out most of the notecards at the display. For them to grasp the insulting, racist nature of the logos at such a young age opened my eyes to the reality that discrimination-related issues affect a multitude of people. If they can see it, how can those in charge be so blind?

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the National Football League, has stated that the decision to change the Redskins’ name lies on the shoulders of their owner, Dan Snyder. As of now, Snyder has made it clear that he is opting to keep things the way they are. President Obama’s thoughts on the issue, however, may help change the owner’s mind.

As far as the rest of the exhibit goes, it seemed somewhat repetitive. Most of the material there had been shown to me in some form, either in school or elsewhere. Are we so different? No, we’re not, and that seems to be what those who put together the exhibit want visitors to believe.

For the most part, my thoughts and feelings about race didn’t change. But what did change is my understanding of the vast number of people who are adversely affected by racism. It affects everyone worldwide, which is something I knew before visiting the Pacific Science Center, but it never felt real until I saw feelings etched on paper with lead.

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