the Change I Wish to See

...and whatever else it takes to find my pants


a Minority Report

I use to think that if this country was just us
that we could build an overdue conception of justice,
but just us could never really combat injustice
'cause when power's in just us, it's just nuts.

For instance, Gary Sheffield sounds like a bigot:

"...You're going to see more black faces, but there ain't no English going to be coming out. … [It's about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do -- being able to control them.

"Where I'm from, you can't control us. You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is. And that's a person that you're going to talk to with respect, you're going to talk to like a man."

Can I pull something reasonable out of that? Sure. I could tell you that what he really meant to say, is that profit-hungry MLB owners and officials capitalize on the struggles of Latino youth; that they dehumanize them, seeing Latinos as potentially cheaper labor to further a product rather than young men hungry for a chance. I could tell you that baseball's athlete-sourcing has taken a huge hit stateside due to the skyrocketing popularity of football and basketball. I might tell you it's been obvious for years that baseball has little interest in scouting young black men domestically. I could tell you that young black American men are more often misled by marketing featuring Carmelo Anthony, Michael Vick and Clinton Portis than they are influenced by ads featuring Ryan Howard and -- and actually it's hard to think of a commercial featuring a black American baseball player. I could tell you that these facts are all part of a larger, ongoing social wave towards more instantaneous gratification and away from the national "pastime."

I could, but I'm not going to do Sheffield's work for him. Gary Sheffield is a grown damn man. At what point do we stop being apologists and calling these people inarticulate? Our civic duty includes not just exercising our right to speak, but managing said exercise. Why isn't Sheffield expected to be able to deliver his message, if it indeed has been publicly misconstrued, accurately? Is it because he's an athlete? Is it because he's black? If he means something different than what he says, why are the listeners burdened with decoding? He said two things very clearly: Latino men are relatively easy to control and black American men are relatively rambunctious. Neither is flattering. More importantly, neither is even true.

The larger point here is that there is more than enough intrinsically devisive about our social fabric. The last thing we need is to turn black-brown relations on themselves by excusing a man who tries to hide behind the conditioning of his skin color to be as racist as those he claims to actually be critiquing.

The message, if so intended, that MLB's power structure is an illustration of a deeply-seeded socio-eco-political dilemma that operates to divide us, is critically engaging. It is a message that is too important to get lost between the lines. It has to be said, but it has to be said well.

Gary Sheffield sounds like a bigot. The fact that he's black makes it worse, not better.