Leave your racism at home. And while you’re at it, leave yourself there too.
I’m a bit embarrassed this got past me yesterday, but Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote a disturbing feature that I’d like to comment on today. In said feature, Wittenmyer wonders how a potentially volatile African American player like Milton Bradley will interact with a notoriously racist Wrigley crowd.
Now here’s a full disclaimer here before I get started. I'm a white male of upper middle class status. I have never experienced any racism directed at me in my life and I have not participated in any racism directed at others. That does not, however, mean I am ignorant towards its existence.
It’s no secret that there is racism at Wrigley (and all across baseball for that matter), but perhaps I’ve been too naive to realize its full extent at our “Friendly” Confines. In the Sun-Times article, Wittenmyer wrote that several African Americans - including Jaque Jones, LaTroy Hawkins and Dusty Baker - have been on the receiving end of racial slurs, hate mail and even physical threats while being members of the Cubs.
In the last five seasons alone, Cubs outfielder Jacque Jones and pitcher LaTroy Hawkins said they were the targets of racist taunts and fan mail. Jones also said in 2006 that he became the victim of racial slurs and threats on his cell phone when the number got out.
Former Cubs manager Dusty Baker said that same season that he received enough threatening, racist mail in Chicago that his wife and young son no longer would attend games. - Gordon Wittenmyer, Chicago Sun-Times
The article even said that current Angels outfielder Torii Hunter openly admitted to placing the Cubs on his no-trade list a few years ago for this very reason.
And the cherry on top of the racist sundae (which I’m sure is made with vanilla ice cream) is that the story ran on Jackie Robinson Day. While every team in the majors was celebrating the color barrier that Robinson broke, our fan base was been singled out as proponents of the very racism that kept black players out of this great game.
Now I know not all Cubs fans are racist. In fact, I truly believe there is only a small percentage of fans out there who would participate in such abuse. But we don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to being racially tolerant at Wrigleyville.
Currently, there are 11 players on the Cubs roster who are not white (12 if you count David Patton...clear is not the same as being white). Those players are Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman, Luis Vizcaino, Geovany Soto, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome, Joey Gathright and Alfonso Soriano.
That’s a really high portion of this Cubs team that does not look like you Mr. or Ms. White Cubs Fan. Hell, some of them don’t even speak the same language as you - so your racism is probably falling on deaf ears anyways. But regardless of your personal feelings to those who look different than what you see in the mirror, why hate them? These players represent you and your city. How much do you think they like playing for people who openly hate them because of their skin color? Seems that you are creating quite the contradiction. You want your team to win yet you hate some of the players so much as to threaten them? Hmmm.
Also, might I mention that you are paying the salaries of these minorities so they can go out and buy minority things and participate in minority events and support their minority families that will eventually produce more minorities? For every ticket, hat, hot dog and beer (aka racism fuel for some of you) that you buy, your hard earned dollars go into the pockets of minority players on the Cubs. So here’s a novel idea for all you racists out there: Stop buying tickets and Cubs paraphernalia. Stop coming to the games and stop wearing Cubbie blue. In essence, stop being a Cubs fan. It’s a win-win situation for everyone!
Now I’ve been involved with some friendly heckling before. Sure, the language could reach rated-R levels at times, but I never went after someone because of their skin color. You might dislike someone for what they do or how badly they play, but it is not OK to hate someone because they have a different pigmentation. Grow up already.
I’m calling out all Cubs fans right now to act. If you hear an individual using hateful, racially charged language towards anyone (Cubs player, opposing player, fans) at a Cubs game then please ask security to remove them from the stadium. I’m all for free speech, but your lack of compassion and understanding for human life has no place in our stadium. Just stay home if you’re going to be like that and yell at your TV.
You know, a friend and I were once talking about what is the worst thing a white person can be called by someone else. There is a very nasty word that starts with “N” that African Americans are called, but what is the equivalent for white people? After much debate, we decided there was no word that came even close to the “N” word, but rather there is a term that labels whites as something terrible. That term is “racist”, and just one is one too many in Cubdom. If you’re a racist, get out.
Get out of our stadium, get out of our bars, get out of our fan base. And never come back.