redskins

Here’s an example of why Riff n Raff will appeal to Redskin Nation.

Book 3 – IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT

Chapter 6 – MAMAS DON’T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE COWBOYS

On the dark and stormy night when the band broke up, Mama Basher was pounding away on her computer keyboard when her son walked through the door with a beautiful girl. “Mama, this is my friend Taffy. Taffy, this is my mom.”

Mama Basher looked up for a split second and said, “Just a minute. Let me finish this. I’ll be with you in a minute.” A minute later, Mama Basher turned away from her computer and beheld Taffy for the first time. She was captivated.

“You’re an Indian. An Indian from India, Indian”

Taffy smiled and replied, “Kinda. I’m a Gypsy.” Mama Basher decided, right them and there, that she wanted her son to marry this girl.

“Gypsies came from India. Your people left there a thousand years ago. And you’ve never had a home since then.”

Basher was thrilled. His mother was obviously enthralled by Taffy, and vice versa.  To him, half the battle had been won. Not wanting to interrupt this first meeting of a newly formed mutual admiration society, Basher kept his mouth shut.

“Yes, we left our homeland, and we don’t much want another. We prefer to wander the world like… well, like Gypsies. But your people had your homelands stolen, and you want them back.” Taffy was an admirer of Mama Basher’s activism, especially her Sisyphusian attempts to win back territories stolen from her people by European invaders. “I admire you for the work you’ve done for your people,” Taffy said, sincerely.

Mama Basher was impressed. Very impressed

“Us Gypsies could benefit greatly from a woman like you in a leadership position.”

Mama Basher raised an eyebrow, prompting Taffy to elaborate, “We don’t assert ourselves, not like the Jews.”

“The Jews. Yes, we can all learn a thing or two from the Jews,” said Mama Basher. “But I’m about to teach one of those Jews a thing or two, too.”

Taffy heard just a hint of aggression in Mama Basher’s voice. Just a hint of hate, too. She wasn’t sure if she should ask, but decided it would be rude not to, and she was very curious, so she plunged in, “You’re starting a new campaign?”

“Basher, this will concern you. Pay attention,” said Mama Basher, turning back to her computer. She clicked her mouse a couple times, pointed at the monitor and asked Taffy, “What do you see?”

“Football helmet. WARshington Redskins.”

“Anything else?”

“No.”

“You don’t see racism in the helmet?” Mama basher was getting irritable. Sheepishly, Taffy said she did not. Taffy didn’t come right out and apologize for her oversight, but it was implied in the tone of her voice. Mama Basher eyed the Gypsy girl without expression. “What about the name? Redskins. Do you see the racism in that?”

Basher had heard this before. He’d heard it for years, ever since he was picked to play for a team called the Redskins   when he first started playing Pop Warner football when he was six.

Mama Basher told Taffy that her and her friends had been called redskins by mean white kids when they were children. The white kids used the term as an insult. “The name is an insult. It’s racism, pure and simple,” said Mama Basher

Basher had always seen it differently. Basher told his guest that ever since he could see a TV and understand what football was, he was a fan of the WARshington Redskins. He was a redskin. He played Pop Warner football for the Redskins. Every time he and his friends played football on the playground, he called his team the Redskins (being the most athletically gifted kid around, Basher always got to be a captain, and pick and name his team).

“No one names their team after something they hate,” said Basher. “No one names their team after something that other people look down on. The term is an honour. They are honouring the courage us redskins had when we fought them. The term is not racist.”

Mama Basher was angry. Though they had had the argument a thousand times before, she’d never gotten angry. The darkness was on her. “Shut up, and leave the thinking to me, buffalo brain,” she scowled at Basher. There was no questioning whether or not ‘buffalo brain’ was meant as an insult. Basher had been called buffalo brain by kids when he was younger. He’d put an end to the taunt by bashing a few heads. From then on, no one dared call him buffalo brain to his face. But now his mother had. And he was furious. ‘Don’t make me angry,’ he thought to himself, ‘you won’t like me when I’m angry.’

Being extremely empathic, Taffy was instantaneously disquieted by the tension. She felt the rage building inside Basher. Before Basher could lose it, Taffy took his hand in hers, looked him in the eye, and said, “No, Basher. That’s not the way.”

Mama Basher was touched by Taffy’s empathy. She felt guilty. She felt small. “I’m sorry, Basher, I didn’t mean that. I should not have called you that. It was mean. I’m sorry. Really, I am.”

Basher calmed down. “What do you think?” he asked Taffy.

The Gypsy girl hesitated. She did not want to get in the middle of a fight.

“Yes, Taffy, what do you think?” asked Mama Basher.

Taffy was trapped. She was going to have to give an opinion. She had an opinion, of course, as she did on most things, but she wasn’t sure it was going to please anyone. But she felt their eyes on her, and it made her uncomfortable, so she gave her answer:

“It seems to me that you’re both right. Those kids who taunted you when you were a child were mean and they meant redskin as an insult. But the people who name their football teams the Redskins mean it as an honour. It’s like Robert Plant sings in Stairway to Heaven

There’s a sign o the wall
but she wants to be sure
‘cause you know some times words have
two meanings

Mama Basher knew Taffy was right, but her ego would not let her admit it. And the darkness was on her. “No,” she said. “It’s racism, and that dirty, rich Jew who owns the team is going to change the name.” She almost spat out the word Jew. The darkness was on her.

Basher was ready for this. Three of the biggest college teams in the country had been courting him; the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and the Florida State Seminoles. Other teams had expressed interest, and still more would do the same, but at the moment those were the ones who wanted him the most. His mother, of course, was well aware of this.

“So,” Basher said, addressing his mother, “I suppose you would not want me to sign with Florida State.”

“They have no business using an Indian name. It’s racism.”

“You would prefer that I sign with either of the Oklahoma teams.”

“I would.”

“The University of Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners stole all our land, Mama,” Basher informed his mother. “Or the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys killed us, Mama. If you’re going to go on the warpath to change the names of teams, you should go after them.”

Mama Basher was livid. She hated the idea of her son embarrassing her in front of Taffy. And Taffy made matters worse by siding with Basher by asking, “And what if Basher gets drafted by either the Redskins, or the Cowboys? He can’t just say, ‘No, I’m not playing for you.’”

Mama Basher was unmoved. The darkness was on her. “No,” she said. “It’s racism, and that dirty, rich Jew who owns the team is going to change the name.” She almost spat out the word Jew. The darkness was on her.

“Okay,” Taffy said, after a prolonged and painful period of silence, “I need to get home. I have some things to do.” The uncomfortable silence filled the room again. Taffy let herself out the door.

“Don’t just sit there, Basher, go with her. It’s not safe out there.” Although he was generally disinclined to follow orders, Basher was happy to follow this one.

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