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Policy Update: “Redskins”

Sep 9, 2014

by Bonnie Broeren

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Our vision at Etsy is that business can be used for good, and that thinking about our impact on people and values can go hand in hand with thinking about profits. As we grow, our commitment to that vision remains at the core of our identity and is woven into the decisions we make in running our business, from the sourcing of our office supplies to the benefits we provide to our employees to what kind of content we allow to be sold through our website.

Today we seek to balance two principles that are critically important to us: freedom of speech and protection from discrimination. Freedom of speech and expression is important to us because we are a community of artists, artisans, and curators of all backgrounds, aesthetics, and viewpoints. If you search our site, you will see a wide variety of items testifying to our diversity and our seemingly limitless creativity.

This freedom, however, is not without limits. In the past, we have taken actions to protect our community and to preserve our integrity as both a creative and an ethical space. We want Etsy to be safe, welcoming, and respectful for everyone, including artists, women, and minorities. For this reason, it has long been against our policies to allow content on our site that demeans people based upon race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation.

You may have been following the struggle of one ethnic group that has made a lot of headlines lately: Native Americans and their fight against the Washington, D.C. professional football team name and mascot, which they have long considered offensive, disparaging, and racist. This very poignant ad was followed by a decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the team’s trademarks. Following this decision, an increasing number of public figures, politicians, schools, news publications, and private companies have spoken out in protest of the name and mascot.

Like the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, we at Etsy find the opinion of the minority group itself to carry most weight in determining whether the mascot is disparaging. In no uncertain terms, Native American groups have consistently advocated and litigated that the term “redskin(s)” is disparaging and damaging to Native Americans. Therefore, it will no longer be permitted in our marketplace.

We understand that fans wish to support their favorite football team, and we do not believe that fans who are attached to the mascot have any racist feeling or intent. We also understand that some fans view the name and mascot as an homage to Native Americans, and we do not doubt their noble intent, but the fact remains that Native Americans themselves find the term unacceptable.

Sellers are welcome to continue selling items that contain the team colors and location, but items containing the name or the logo will no longer be allowed. This change takes effect today. Our Marketplace Integrity Team is contacting members by email whose listings are affected by this updated policy. If you have questions about a specific item in your shop or that you might want to list on Etsy, please contact us using the Help Center.