On The Eve Of “42” Home Release, Racism Is Alive And Well

Editor’s note: What follows is commentary on world events and popular culture.  The content is not the typical baseball-related material we tend to promote at this website but I felt the thoughts, in relation to the release of a movie that centers around the subject, were worthy of sharing in this space.  Due to the sensitive nature of this post, we will not be allowing comments to be posted to it.  Feel free to reach out via Twitter of Facebook if you wish to respectfully discuss the issues contained within.

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Photo courtesy of, and trademarked by, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Warner Bros. will release the movie “42” on home video in various aspects on Tuesday, July 16.  The movie, which follows Jackie Robinson throughout the early part of his ground-breaking career, is an excellent adaptation of the integration of baseball and racism in America during the same time frame.

Recent events seem to suggest that the world has not changed as much as one would hope.

George Zimmerman Found Not-Guilty
In one of the most public cases directly associated with racial profiling, George Zimmerman was found by a jury to have acted within his rights of self defense when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin.  The story and the facts seem to suggest that Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, found Martin’s actions threatening and reacted in a manner that he believed was required.  However, Martin was unarmed and many believe was only guilty of being black, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Since the announcement of the verdict, many citizens have taken to protests in their own cities, expressing concern that justice was not served in the case.  The whole situation reminds many of the trials centered around the beating of Rodney King in the early 1990’s.  The nation has reacted peacefully in this instance, but they are still striving to have their voices heard.

There are many varying opinions as to why the jury reached their verdict.  Some believe the prosecution did not do their job while others feel the legal system is flawed to the point that it was the only logical decision.  How the decision ultimately effects the country and the culture we live it has yet to be seen.

Big Brother
The CBS television reality show “Big Brother” has put together a cast of contestants that have led to severely low ratings this season.  The show takes a number of contestants and sequesters them in a house for a period of time, having them live and compete with one another in challenges that ultimately leads to a $500,000 prize.  The current cast has, however, seemingly created a focus group of life in America right now.  A few of the cast members have shown traits of bullying and extreme threatening behavior while one of the cast members in particular, Aaryn Gries, has been a source of racist comments, observations, and outbursts throughout the first eight episodes of the current season of the show.

The show reached a boiling point on that issue this week, as seen on the recent episode which aired on Sunday.  Candice, an African-American contestant who has been on the receiving end of multiple comments and outbursts, was physically removed from a room during a verbal altercation by another African-American contestant, Howard.  Speaking of the conversations that happened and his reaction, Howard had the following to say:

“It’s heartbreaking seeing any woman cry. When we share the same ethnic group, it takes on a different hurt for me because that’s my mom crying, that’s my sister crying, and all she wants to do is to stand up for what’s right. Unfortunately, we are not playing a game where you can do that.”

“It’s just reminding me of where I am from, it’s reminding me of what I heard, it’s reminding me of all the stuff we know goes on…we ain’t running from nothing, we just being smarter. It’s a game and we gonna play the game.”

That seems to bring forth the biggest concern about the entire situation, a suggestion that they are in a situation where they cannot stand up for themselves.  A situation where allowing others to continue to treat them poorly based solely on their race seems to be the only choice they have.

It should be noted that Aaryn apologized to Candice during the episode.  However, the apology seemingly came across with a tone of misinterpretation than it did as a sincere apology for racist remarks.  Aaryn has had her employment with a modeling agency in Texas terminated due to the situations brought about on the show, a termination that she is unaware of due to her involvement on the show and being sequestered from the “outside world”.

Jackie Robinson faced many of the same situations and was challenged to “turn the other cheek” in order to further a cause for an entire race of individuals.  It was a time when America had not fully come to terms with the integration of society, let alone baseball.  Jackie kept his mouth shut, his anger in check, and his emotions private in order to pave the way for many more people sharing his race to not have to do the same thing.  Jackie’s courage, along with the support of his wife Rachel, is well depicted in the film and I strongly recommend it.

In many ways, Jackie Robinson succeeded.

Some people seem to still be fighting the same fight despite his victories.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
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