I have never used the so-called “N word” in my entire life. Never. Maybe the reason is because I never heard the term used in my own home.
I did hear it outside the home, but never in the home.
I also remember quite vividly when my best and black friend from junior high school, Ronald Williams, came looking for me and was asked by a white neighbor what he was doing here, my mom called out from the window and without hesitation, “he’s our guest!”
I have, however, wondered how it could be that Major League Baseball was not integrated until 1947.
How did people justify the segregation based solely on skin color and not talent.
I guess it is the same justification that was provided for school segregation which didn’t become illegal until the Supreme Court ruling in 1954 in the Brown vs. the Board of Education case.
The underlying question, though, is how could anyone truly believe that skin color makes one human inferior to another human? Is a black cat inferior to a white cat? Does a black horse run faster than a white horse simply because of the color of the hide?
A better question, however, may be not why it has taken so long to address racial segregation, but, rather, are we now actually going backwards?
Clearly the presidential campaign and election of Trump provided the opening for racists to no longer need to hide their racism, but this problem goes a great deal deeper than just the election of Trump; it is the environment that enabled the election of Donald J. Trump as president that is of great concern.
This brings us to the Adam Jones incident at Fenway Park several weeks ago and the racial slurs spewed at him during a recent game between the Red Sox and the Orioles.
Boston was, of course, the last Major League team to sign a black ballplayer, Pumpsie Green (pictured above), in 1959. That, of course, is some 12 years after the Brooklyn Dodgers broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson.
I will add that during my time serving as U.S. Customs Port Director for the port of Boston in the late 1990’s, I was struck by the fact that, at least at that time, there were no black managers at the port.
I was told that it was just reflective of the surrounding population. I will also tell you that this has since changed at port headquarters and there are now several black managers. I guess the surrounding demographics must have drastically changed.
As far as the attitudes of the surrounding communities and the fan base at Fenway Park are concerned, however, is there still a need to have concerns about racial attitudes?
Clearly “Big Papi” David Ortiz is as beloved a figure in Boston as there has ever been in sports. Further, it is profoundly unfair to broad brush an entire community as racist based on the actions of a few jerks who attended a Red Sox- Orioles game.
However, there are some things that can be done to stem the tide of racial tension since there are also things that are being done to fuel the tides of racial tension.
One of the best things that can be done to counter the currernt racial divide is to reject the rantings and actions of high profile individuals who contribute to the divide instead of using their influence to unite.
That brings us to former Red Sox World Series hero and current Breitbart radio host Curt Schilling. In the aftermath of the Adam Jones incident, Mr. Schilling said that Jones was “lying.”
He went on to say “if somebody did say, we are gong to see it and hear about it, and I would apologize to Adam Jones for doubting him, but until then, I think this is bullshit”!
Is there any better example of fueling the flames of racism? We can’t expect to extinguish those flames if high profile individuals like Curt Schilling, not to mention Attorney General Jeff Sessions or presidential adviser Steve Bannon or the president himself Donald J. Trump contribute so mightily to taking racism to the mainstream.
In 2017 to still be dealing with so many instances of racism in both Boston and throughout the rest of this nation is simply unacceptable.
A nation that still has to guard against taking away voting rights as well as civil rights in the 21st century must take a serious look at itself and question if we really are going back in time.
It almost makes me grateful we didn’t have to wait beyond 1959 for the signing of Pumpsie Green by the Red Sox.