Class Warfare Blog

September 14, 2017

Racism is as American as Baseball

Filed under: Culture,Race,Sports — Steve Ruis @ 10:53 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Some baseball fans unfurled a banner with the above printed on it at last night’s Red Sox baseball game. Of course they were ejected … for telling the truth. (Actually there is a team policy forbidding “signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark,” but I was feeling snarky writing this.)

Actually I believe this statement is true but baseball may show us the way forward. Baseball had a racist past. Early on, people of color played but soon enough, Backs and Hispanics were banned from the professional game. (There were still plenty of “colored” baseball players, but they usually were relegated to playing on and against teams made up of just Black and Brown players in front of Black and Brown audiences.)

In 1942, as almost everyone knows, the “color barrier” in white, major league baseball was broken by Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. Robinson, the player, took the abuse on the field while Rickey, the schemer behind the effort, took the abuse from other baseball executives and from fans in his mail.

Many brave actions were taken by players supporting members of their own team and many despicable actions were taken by players not supporting members of their own team but eventually everything was sorted out. I saw my first major league professional game in 1958 and by then there were quite a number of Black and Brown players. What I did not know was that even my team, the S.F. Giants, had a self-segregated clubhouse. The Blacks kept to themselves, the Hispanic players kept to themselves, and the whites kept to themselves, mostly.

Fast forward to now and you see major league teams in which Black, Brown, and White players mingle, enjoy each other’s company off of the field, support one another when they have family issues, etc. It isn’t a perfect world, but it is far, far better than where it began.

Sports teams, in general, have embraced Rodney King’s plea of “Can’t we all just get along?”

The U.S. is not the last bastion of racism. Racism is a live and well elsewhere around the world. But racism is a smear on a facade of a country claiming to be a better place, an exceptional place. It is time we address our racist past and our racist present and make ourselves an exception, rather than a manifestation of the rule.

13 Comments »

  1. Good piece, Steve. It should be noted that these patrons who unfurled their banner at the Red Sox game are not baseball fans. They were there as activist plants, having carefully chosen Boston as the place to make their statement in front of a national television audience…without any recognition of the strides made, even within the Boston Baseball organization, to combat a racist past, and a racist present.

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    Comment by Zach — September 14, 2017 @ 11:39 am | Reply

    • Activist plants to what end? Were they White Supremacists?

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      Comment by Ruth — September 14, 2017 @ 12:16 pm | Reply

      • They identified themselves to news outlets as “We are a group of white anti-racist protesters”

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        Comment by Zach — September 14, 2017 @ 12:24 pm | Reply

        • So they were anti-racists posting a racist message to stir dissent?

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          Comment by Ruth — September 14, 2017 @ 12:26 pm | Reply

          • As best as I understand it, their point was to say that racism is ‘home grown apple pie’, just like baseball. I didn’t find it a terribly helpful or effective form of protest.

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            Comment by Zach — September 14, 2017 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

            • Having learned the back story I agree. White people(one of which I am) are on the defensive whether they are racist or not. This didn’t seem like a particularly good conversation starter with their intended audience.

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              Comment by Ruth — September 14, 2017 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

              • Uh, we’re talking about it. (Just sayin’.)

                On Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 12:45 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

                >

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                Comment by Steve Ruis — September 14, 2017 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

                • I didn’t mean to imply that there would be no conversations about it. Just that those people who are particularly defensive about race relations will likely only talk about it in the context of the protesters being pot stirrers rather than try to come to any real understanding of another point of view. I think the rest of us already acknowledge racism exists. I would have thought their intended audience wasn’t the choir.

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                  Comment by Ruth — September 14, 2017 @ 2:17 pm | Reply

                • Well, we talk about religion too, but I don’t find religion terribly helpful or effective either.

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                  Comment by Zach — September 14, 2017 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

                  • Yeah, but it is declining … apparently because us atheists are mean to them(!) and we make them cry about how unfair it is for us to pick on them.

                    On Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 3:07 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

                    >

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                    Comment by Steve Ruis — September 14, 2017 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

                    • Such cruel and heartless bastards we are!

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                      Comment by Zach — September 15, 2017 @ 5:14 am

                    • Yep. We make them cry …. wolf! Persecution, Persecution!!

                      On Fri, Sep 15, 2017 at 5:14 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

                      >

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                      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 15, 2017 @ 7:33 am

        • Nevermind. Just Googled it.

          Like

          Comment by Ruth — September 14, 2017 @ 12:34 pm | Reply


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