Listen to this article here
Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Times‘ daily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.
While a select groups of professional and collegiate athletic teams have recently changed their names to do away with racially charged titles, George Washington University has joined the move by changing the nickname for its teams.
Known as “Colonials,” the university’s sports teams were the source of controversy when students said the name is a direct negative connotation regarding violence toward Native Americans and other colonized people, according to ABC News.
The original list of replacement names started at 10, and in what the school is calling “Moniker Madness,” the campus community has narrowed the options to four after receiving “nearly 20,000 points of feedback from the GW community,” according to a news release.
The final four nickname options narrowed down during the “First Impressions” phase of decisions are “Ambassadors,” “Blue Frog,” “Revolutionaries” and “Sentinels.”
The next phase, “Try It on For Size,” which runs from March 20 to April 28, will include feedback from students, faculty, staff and alumni.
During this phase, the community will have a chance to view “hype videos” of each name option and be able to select branded merchandise for each moniker option.
This renaming joins the many athletic teams who have recently undergone brand changes due to negative racial connotations, including Cleveland pro baseball team’s change from Indians to Guardians and the Washington football team’s change from Redskins to Commanders.
Kansas City Chiefs aren’t backing off their name and image
While some teams are changing with the times, the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs argue their teams’ original names are vital to their franchise’s history.
“While the origin of the team’s name has no affiliation with American Indian culture, much of the club’s early promotional activities relied heavily on imagery and messaging depicting American Indians in a racially insensitive fashion,” the Kansas City Chiefs website says.
“Over the course of the club’s 60-plus-year history, the Chiefs organization has worked to eliminate this offensive imagery and other forms of cultural appropriation in their promotional materials and game-day presentation,” the website concludes.
While there are still growing calls for the Kansas City Chiefs to change their name, they have not budged and instead established an American Indian Community Working Group in 2014 that banned headdresses and face paint at games and retired the use of Warpaint as an ambassador of the Chiefs, among other things.
As for George Washington University, the board of trustees will announce a new nickname for its athletic teams by the 2023-24 academic school year.
According to ABC News, the university mascot, George 1, that’s been around since 1948, will remain the same.