When talking about different institutions of American culture, people often bring up baseball as one of our country’s defining pastimes. The sport has been around for the majority of our country’s life span. However, when talking about some of the darker aspects of American culture, some would argue that racial hatred has been a defining part of our country’s history as well.
This issue was evident when four fans unveiled a large sign, which read, “Racism Is As American As Baseball,” during a baseball game at Fenway Park. While the fans were peacefully ejected from the game and no arrests were made, the sign got many people wondering what point these fans were trying to make with this sign.
One of the protesters spoke anonymously to several news organizations to explain their actions.
“We are a group of white anti-racist protesters,” the demonstrator said. “We want to remind everyone that just as baseball is fundamental to American culture and history, so too is racism.”
Another protester claimed that their demonstration was partially inspired by an incident in Fenway Park earlier in the year where Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones had a barrage of racial insults hurled at him by several fans in the crowd.
Remembering this incident is important for people who are trying to criticize the protesters for bringing “real-world” issues in a game designed for escapism. Even though the sporting world has made drastic improvements integrating people of different racial and cultural groups, there is still an underlying issue of racism that has not fully gone away.
Back in August, NFL star Michael Bennett accused several police officers of using excessive force against him for no reason other than the color of his skin. Bennett has gone on to claim that he will sue the police department that was responsible for the traumatic experience. While many can make the argument of “innocent until proven guilty,” I do not find Bennett’s story hard to believe given the number of incidents where African-American citizens have been abused by police officers.
These protesters’ point is simple; racism is still deeply ingrained in American culture despite the progress that has been made. Even taking the Charlottesville incident out of the equation, I was just able to list two racially charged incidents that happened within months of each other this past year. Making matters worse is that these incidents happened with people of notoriety and fame. They exemplify that even if you work your way up the social class food chain, you can still be treated with cruelty and disrespect due to the color of your skin, which is the opposite of American values.
To those complaining that these protests should be left out of sporting events, I wonder if you felt the same way about the people who were hurling racial insults at Adam Jones. The people who complain about peaceful protests at sporting events assume that the world of sports is a pure place where all of the problems of the world are left outside and forgotten about for a few hours. Ideally, that kind of statement would be truthful, but there are still plenty of people who bring racial hatred into the games and make players of certain racial groups the victims of their hatred. It would be cowardly and selfish to sit back and allow that kind of hatred to occur.
Though there are people who would deny it, racism is as deeply ingrained into America as any other piece of our country’s culture. From slavery to segregation to police brutality, racial hatred has existed in American history longer than baseball itself. So, the protesters are absolutely on point when they say, “Racism Is As American As Baseball.”
America is a country with many great people and great things to celebrate and be proud of. Therefore, when things happen in this country that are unjust to members of our society, we can not turn around and call the people who are protesting these injustices “complainers.” These protesters have the right to peacefully point out that our country is filled with pastimes both proud and shameful.