Native rap star Frank Waln to perform for ESPN show on R-word

CHICAGO – If you haven’t heard the uproar over the Washington R******s and the push to #changethename, then you haven’t been paying attention to social media or you’ve been living under a rock. Recently, ex-Bears head coach Mike Ditka said, “R****** name change is so stupid, it’s appalling.” While on the flip side, NFL sportscasters Phil Simms and Tony Dungy have said they will only refer to the Washington team as Washington and not the R-word.

ESPN came to the American Indian Center of Chicago, to film (Indian-famous soon to be real-famous) rap star Frank Waln performing a new song for the show, “Outside the Lines.” The shoot was done on the stage at Chicago’s American Indian Center with Robert Wapahi’s mural beautifully lit up in the background. This was a closed shoot and, according to the director, the show is to be focused on the Washington R-word and the debate over a name change. After filming the video, Chi-Nations had the chance to catch up with Frank to talk about how the issue is affecting the youth and he had a lot to say. (See video below.)

Earlier this year, the American Indian Center hosted a town hall on this very topic and the response to the portrayal of natives as mascots. Overall, the opinions were mixed and inconclusive on the use of native imagery as applied to the Chicago Blackhawks but in seemingly full agreement to the disgust over the Washington football team’s use over the derogatory R-Word.

This is a debate that will not be resolved until Washington’s owner, Snyder, changes the name. Asking Chi-Nations member Anthony Pochel how he feels about the portrayal of native people as mascots and he said, “As Native youth we feel  – what’s that word when you feel not a human – dehumanized.”

ESPN’s show, “Outside the Lines,” will air next week on Tuesday, September 2, 2014. 

Photo: Frank Waln via Facebook