On Baseball and Civil Rights

This weekend Major League Baseball (MLB) will celebrate Civil Rights. Whether it be Saturday’s game between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds or various events held beyond Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark over two days, the weekend is designed to celebrate racial equality.

The highlighted event is a luncheon to honor MLB Beacon Awards to Hank Aaron (Beacon of Life), Muhammad Ali (Beacon of Change), and Bill Cosby (Beacon of Hope). Whether national figures as President Clinton, famous Cincinnati athletes, local and national distinguished figures, or simply the people attending to honor and learn, events will look at both the journey taken to date and the journey ahead.

In light of electing a president who happens to be black, there are other events in the shadows this celebration. We have a prominent South Carolina conservative joking about a gorilla escaped from a zoo: “I’m sure it’s just one of Michelle’s ancestors – probably harmless.” – And then delivering this lame apology, “I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone. The comment was clearly in jest.”

We have racist comments from other notable individuals concerning a Supreme Court nominee – one being the same radio talk show host who promoted and aired Barack the Magic Negro, a song written by a conservative speaker and intentionally distributed by a prominent political leader. Not to mention numerous daily encounters that may or may not make the news.

Whether it be White on Black, Black on White, Christian on Muslim, Muslim on Jew, Catholic on Protestant, Indian or Pakistani, or countless others – whether it be obvious, subtle, in jest, or based on stereotypes and/or misconceptions, individual people need to take it upon themselves to look at their own behavior, as well as their responses when observing such behavior in others.

Let us hope that this weekend’s events in Cincinnati will remind everyone that we are all humans and all deserving the same respect and dignity. Since we humans essential invented the classification of people by race, it is also up to us to do its dismantling.

This is said of Bill Cosby.

He has challenged people to do better. He’s been a very courageous person and has not allowed his fame and his prominence to interfere with his ability to be candid when it comes to assessing conditions and calling on people to step up to the plate.
Retired U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Nathaniel Jones

Personally, I related these words to Tim Valentine – a fellow citizen and fellow blogger whom I regularly read to learn, thus invite others to read him. Personally, the Understanding Race exhibit that touched me earlier this year in this post. Personally, I’m trying to get better. Are you?