One of the great things about the Internet is that it's opened up my eyes to so many things that I may not have realized were present previously. One of those things being the massive amount of oppression that Native American people face; from the cultural appropriation of Native American cultural symbols/traditions, to the use of slurs directed towards Native individuals.
On Friday, at lunch, I was quietly scrolling through Instagram and Tumblr posts about dismantling harmful societal norms, and images of Steve Rogers's face (my way of saying I was completely minding my own business), when I was joined at the table by a person. I had been talking with this person, pleasant conversation mostly, when another individual sat down next to the person I was conversing with (I was opposite the both of them at the table). Their words quickly turned from lovely chatter to a harmful slur, as the use of the word "redskins" was made by both of them. I addressed this issue, alarmed that what they had been saying turned into this, with a kind, respectful "you really should not use that word, it's highly offensive", or something like that. They replied with, "it's a sports team name"; it's a hurtful word even if it is a sports team's name. I replied with "it's still an incredibly inappropriate word, and some Native people are working to ensure that that word is not used by a sports team". I then told them about the Twitter hashtag, #DearNonNatives, to which they barely listened, already distracted by something else that had entered their peripheral vision.
I don't know if they meant to be offensive, or if they were just trying to point out a harmful word that is commonly used in today's society, truthfully, I cannot recall what context they used the word in; but that slur is not one that is ever to be used, and I found the use of it by them problematic. And the thing is, last year, two of our teachers worked in collaboration to create an entire unit on Native American life, and it was highly informative. I cannot believe that my peers could write pieces on that unit, read the texts we read on the genocide the Europeans committed, and learn about current reservation life, as well as Native life before and during European colonization, and still come out of that learning experience thinking it's okay to use the word "redskin" in a casual conversation. That baffles me.