Boston has a racist history, and so does baseball.
So, when a group of five white anti-racist protestors unraveled a banner in Fenway Park on Wednesday night that read, Racism is as American as Baseball, it was beautiful.
A group of white people, in one of the whitest, and most historically racist, cities in America, called out America for what has always been deep in its DNA, a country rife with racism, during the middle of a game that is still scarred by its racist past and bruised by its present, that America holds so dear to its heart.
It was ironic elegance.
“The banner came in response to the racist comments at the beginning of the season at Fenway,” said one of the banner holders, who remains unnamed, citing the story Orioles star Adam Jones shared in May about getting peanuts thrown at him and being called the N-word. “Overall, we saw, we see Boston continually priding itself as a kind of liberal, not racist city, and are reminded also constantly that its actually an extremely segregated city.
“It has been for a long time, and that no white people can avoid the history of racism, essentially. So we did this banner as a gesture towards that, to have a conversation about that.
Other black major leaguers like Curtis Granderson, Matt Kemp and CC Sabathia have all echoed in the past that theyve endured similar experiences and treatment, especially in Boston.
Very unfortunate. I heard there was 59 or 60 ejections tonight in the ballpark. It is what it is, right? Jones said back in May. I just go out and play baseball. Its unfortunate that people need to resort to those type of epithets to degrade another human being. Im trying to make a living for myself and for my family. The Red Sox said afterward that there were 34 ejections that night.
According to an exclusive interview with CSNNE.com, the group named Black Lives Matter as part of its inspiration.
There were originally about eight people involved who had this idea, and those eight people come from various organizing groups in the Boston area, said a group member by phone to CSNNE.com. Mostly groups that affiliate with racial justice causes. And the banner came in response to the racist comments at the beginning of the season at Fenway [that Adam Jones spoke of].
Yet again, were faced with a moment in which sports and race are intertwined. Which is why its always so funny to see people complain about politics and race relations spilling over into sports when in actuality, sports have always been a catalyst in effecting change in race relations in this country.
Where would sports be without Jesse Owens in the 1936 Berlin Games when he defeated Hitlers supposed superior race?
Where would baseball be without Jackie Robinson?
Where would we be without Muhammad Ali?
Where would Boston be without Bill Russell?
Some white people love to celebrate black athletes after theyve benefitted from their progress but never want to be allies when their sports heroes need them the most.
We want to remind everyone that just as baseball is fundamental to American culture and history, so too is racism, the group said in a written statement to CSNEE. White people need to wake up to this reality before white supremacy can truly be dismantled. We urge anyone who is interested in learning more or taking action to contact their local racial justice organization.
White America just received a wakeup call.
But this time, it was white people on the other end.
The question is, were they listening?