‘Racism is as American as Baseball’ banner reminds Red Sox fans of uncomfortable truth
The notion that a country built on enslaved, trafficked African people’s labor can ever outpace race would be laughable if not so dangerous. Similarly, the idea that some places should be free from all race-based discourse (insert colorblind cubicles, melting pot mantras and safe spaces for all) is ridiculous.
If there are no limits to the places, and ways, in which Black people may suffer attacks because they/we are Black, then there ought not be limits on where to resist the attacks. These truths help contextualize the civil disobedience seen in a “Racism is as American as Baseball” banner at a Red Sox baseball game unveiled this week.
The Washington Post reports that the banner was displayed for a few minutes, prior to stadium security removing its holders from the premises. “We are a group of white anti-racist protesters,” the fans said in a statement to The Post.
The protesters continued:
We want to remind everyone that just as baseball is fundamental to American culture and history, so too is racism. 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.
One group member told the The Post the group was “not associated with any particular organization although all of us do work as organizers in various Boston groups that combat white supremacy and racism.”
“We are responding to a long history of racism and white supremacy in the United States that continues to pervade every aspect of American culture today,” the protester said. “We deliberately chose a platform in an attempt to reach as many people as possible.”
Admittedly, just as “one monkey don’t stop no show,” one banner won’t make anti-blackness pack up and go home. This is so even if well-intentioned white folks hold the banner. However, civil disobedience like this furthers discussion and can force people who would rather remain complacent wallflowers to face uncomfortable ideas.
On Thursday, FOX Sports co-host of “UNDISPUTED” Shannon Sharpe had some comments to share about the banner. He made an important point that this banner was strategically unfurled in Boston at Fenway Park, with the team that was “the last team to be integrated.”
American society reveres the public square because of its capacity for robust and free political speech. While individual athletic events are not necessarily the traditional public square, the utility is clear. Athletic events are high viewership gatherings that include substantial amounts of capital and broad swaths of humanity who engage.
Whether through Colin Kapernick’s taking a knee (after which he was threatened with death), inspired alliances or collegiate athlete protests for racial equity on campus, the time is always right for socially conscious (white) people to what they deem right.