A Washington Redskins “Fake News” Story Went Viral to Make a Point
Across Facebook today, many shared a story about the Washington Redskins football team officially changing their controversial name to the Washington Redhawks. The sources looked legit — ESPN, The Washington Post, and even the Redskins’ own website were made to look as if the team had changed their name, complete with a new logo. Alas, this was all an elaborate ruse by Rising Hearts, a women-led Native American activist group hoping to shed light on how easily the team could change its name.
There's an elaborate hoax going around about the Washington Redskins changing their name to the Redhawks. Someone made fake WaPo, ESPN, SI and Bleacher Report pages for it (the urls are all wrong) pic.twitter.com/KoadRYdwjX
— Eric Morrow (@morroweric) December 13, 2017
Eventually, people figured out the hoax — and so did the Redskins. The team tweeted a statement midday that read, “This morning, the organization was made aware of fraudulent websites about our team name. The name of the team is The Washington Redskins and will remain that for the time being.”
Once fans realized it was a ruse, those responsible released a statement, outlining why they’d gone so hard in duping fans and activists alike.
Official Statement on #GoRedhawks campaign by Native advocates. "We created this action to show the NFL and the Washington Football franchise how easy, popular and powerful changing the name could be." https://t.co/WBlk1WRR6n pic.twitter.com/M7uMBbbw7V
— Washington Redhawks (@redhawksdc) December 13, 2017
“After decades of team owner Dan Snyder refusing to change the name of the Washington football team, Native advocates took to the internet to do it for him,” the press release said, adding that their group will be holding a press conference in the team’s home of Washington DC during this Sunday’s afternoon game.
“We created this action to show the NFL and the Washington Football franchise how easy, popular and powerful changing the name could be,” says Rebecca Nagle (Cherokee Nation), one of the organizers of Rising Hearts. “What we’re asking for changes only four letters. Just four letters! Certainly, the harm that the mascot does to Native Americans outweighs the very, very minor changes the franchise would need to make.”
Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists alike have been protesting the team name for at least half a decade. Although activists throughout the world have successfully been able to change the name of hundreds of racially charged Indigenous names, major league teams like The Cleaveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and the Washington Redskins (among others) have all continued use their contested names.
What do you think of this internet hoax? Let us know @BritandCo!
(Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)