Ian Gordon

Ian Gordon

Copy Editor

When not wrangling copy for the MoJo crew, Ian writes about immigration, sports, and Latin America. His work has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, Wired, and Slate. Got a comment or a tip? Email him: igordon [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Are Coke and FedEx Worried About Sponsoring the Redskins?

| Fri Nov. 22, 2013 7:00 AM EST

As more and more people have called for Washington's pro football team to change its name, some folks have argued that the only way to get owner Dan Snyder to listen is to go after his wallet. That's right: Boycott the team or, failing that, target its corporate sponsors.

On its official website, the team displays five of its largest partners: Ticketmaster, FedEx Express, Bud Light, Ameritel Corporation, and Bank of America. Mother Jones reached out to each of these sponsors, as well as a few others, to see if they had any comment on the campaign to push Snyder to drop the R-word—and whether they had considered dropping their sponsorship because of the controversy. Here's what their spokespeople had to say:

Coca-Cola: "As sponsors, we do not play a role in decisions regarding NFL trademarks. Your questions can be better addressed by the team and the NFL."

 

FedEx: "We understand that there is a difference of opinion on this issue. Nevertheless, we believe that our sponsorship of FedEx Field continues to be in the best interests of FedEx and its stockholders."
 

 

New York Life: "The company has received no complaints. The company plans to assess the sponsorship at the conclusion of the season."

 


Virginia Lottery: "We have not received complaints regarding the Redskins sponsorship and we are not considering dropping it."

 

Ticketmaster: "We are declining to comment, but perhaps their sponsor StubHub would have something to say about this. StubHub is located right there in San Francisco."


Thanks for the suggestion, Ticketmaster PR! Unfortunately, StubHub—like Ameritel, Anheuser-Busch, and Bank of America—did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

This article has been updated.

Quick Reads: "Hunting Season" by Mirta Ojito

| Mon Nov. 11, 2013 7:00 AM EST

 

Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town

By Mirta Ojito

BEACON PRESS

In November 2008, seven Long Island teenagers "hunting for beaners" set upon two Ecuadorean immigrants in the quiet village of Patchogue. When Marcelo Lucero fought back, he was fatally stabbed. Former New York Times reporter Mirta Ojito reconstructs the night in painstaking detail, illuminating the anti-Latino sentiment that bubbled up as new-immigrant lifestyles clashed with suburban mores. Though she sometimes gets mired in the minutiae, she aptly captures a town's struggle to reconcile its lily-white past with its increasingly diverse present. Of Lucero, Ojito writes: "Only in death were they forced to see him."

"Often Contemptuous" and "Usually Offensive": 120 Years of Defining "Redskin"

| Thu Oct. 17, 2013 5:15 PM EDT

In the ongoing debate over the name of Washington's pro football team, folks on both sides have argued about the relative offensiveness of the word "redskin" over time. Team owner Dan Synder insists the R-word is a long-standing term of respect for Native Americans, saying in a letter to season ticket holders that "the name was never a label. It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor." Yet dusting off the old dictionary suggests otherwise.

In the current edition (the 11th) of the best-selling Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, redskin is defined as an "American Indian"—with the label "usually offensive" added for clarification. But when did that label get added—and how has Merriam-Webster defined the word over time?

According to Peter Sokolowski, a lexicographer and Merriam-Webster editor at large, "redskin" first made its way into an M-W dictionary in 1890, when its unabridged International defined the word in this way:

A common appellation for a North American Indian—so called from the color of their skin.

That was just the beginning. Here's how Merriam-Webster's definition changed subtly over time:

1898: A different line of M-W dictionaries, the Collegiate, adds an important distinction in its first edition:

A North American Indian; —often contemptuous.

1909: The unabridged New International drops the "so called from the color of their skin" from the 1890 edition.

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