ESPN – The Washington Redskins became the latest NFL team to recognize Juneteenth by giving their employees the day off Friday, joining a growing list that wants to honor the effective ending of slavery in the United States.
Redskins coach Ron Rivera sent a memo to the entire organization Wednesday explaining that all employees — from ticket-takers to the front office — would get a paid holiday, whether they had been working in the building or remotely.
Called Juneteenth, June 19 is observed as the effective end of slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect Jan. 1, 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, after the April 1865 conclusion of the Civil War, when the last of the newly freed slaves were read President Abraham Lincoln’s decree in Texas.
A number of other teams have also said they will give all their employees off Friday. The list so far includes the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints. Other teams, such as the Tennessee Titans, gave all their employees the next couple of weeks off.
Rivera, the NFL’s lone minority head-coaching hire this past offseason, said in the memo of the town hall meetings that he “learned a great deal after hearing all of your stories, experiences and suggestions about how our organization can make a difference in helping to make our community safer for people of color.”
Rivera said of Juneteenth that, “Given all that has transpired, there is no doubt that the impact of this day will be even more heartfelt this year.”
I don’t want to bash Ron Rivera, who’s mostly seemed like a good guy and has a long haul ahead of him to fix a deeply damaged Washington team. And the Redskins’ decision to celebrate Juneteenth is a good one with all of the hurt and unrest that recent events have caused for Black people in their organization and elsewhere.
But how are you going to be a team named after a legitimate slur against indigenous people and start acting woke? It’s like showing up to the protests as a cop and beating people up with no legal grounds. Oh, right, that actually happens. So maybe it’s more like being a President who’s advocated for violence against protestors organizing a rally at the location of an egregious historical race crime on Juneteenth? Nope wait, that happened too.
Maybe it’s just like everything else Washington does as a football team: Completely oblivious.
Either way, I guess let’s look at the positives of Dan Snyder and company doing one good thing with a storied history of doing no good things. Every journey begins with a footstep. The second footstep should prooooobably be changing the team name that references the skin tone of a group of people slaughtered for their land by the same types of people who led to all of these issues in America. But, you know, one step at a time.
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