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US Patent Office Says It Won't Protect a Racial Slur. Here's What It Means for the Washington Team

Democracy Now talks to Amanda Blackhorse, the Navajo activist who started a lawsuit to get the Washington football team to change their name.
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On Wednesday June 15, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a ruling that canceled the Washington football team's trademark license on its name, closing the case of Blackhorse v. Pro Football, which has been ongoing since 2006. The ruling adds to a growing wave of public pressure urging the team to change its name because the term “redskin” is a racial slur.

Amanda Blackhorse, one of the plaintiffs in Blackhorse v. Pro Football, said the ruling is a victory for Native Americans across the country. However, it doesn’t accomplish everything she and her supporters are fighting for. “The cancellation of the trademark does not mean that the team has to change their name,” Blackhorse said. “I think our biggest thing is that their name, the R’ word, does not deserve federal protection.”

In the video segment above, Blackhorse talks to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now about why she is fighting to get the name changed. And sports writer David Zirin reports in from the World Cup in Brazil to discuss what the ruling means for the Washington football team, their owner Dan Snyder, and other NFL teams.


Molly Rusk wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Molly is a recent graduate of the program in Creative Writing at the University of Washington and an online reporting intern at YES! Follow her on Twitter @mollylynnrusk.

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