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Giants’ Jackson shows courage publicly condemning hate messages

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Jay Jackson grew up in Greenville, S.C., which has a history of lynching Black people and now has a police department that, according to objective analysis, disproportionately targets Black citizens for arrests.

With that in mind, we should excuse and applaud the Giants pitcher for sharing some of the racist hate messages directed at him after a lousy pitching performance the other day.

Jackson told it, should tell it and even talked about it.

“Just bringing it to light,” he said Wednesday in a TV interview with NBC Sports Bay Area during “Giants Pregame Live.” “I know there’s a lot of guys out there that get (racially based hate messages).

“You can tell me I’m bad at baseball or had a bad game or things of that nature. At the end of the day, we’re humans. But just coming at me, saying things, calling me out by my name, showing a really ugly side, it’s just unnecessary. I know I was bad that day. I can fully understand that. But to call me names and say you hope I break my arm or that my career is over ... it’s unacceptable and unnecessary.”

The messages posted on social media platforms – where the hateful spewing of covert cowards is frighteningly prevalent – relied on the usual shopworn threats and insults. The N-word.

He was called “black slave” and told to “go back to picking cotton n----r boy.”

Jackson, 33, was hit with another phrase, one which seems to be the go-to for these miserable creatures: “Just die.”

 

Social media is the best and worst thing that has happened to civilization because it informs and misinforms, brings us closer together and farther apart and also provides a comfortable space for semi-anonymous scoundrels. Sadly, its deleterious effect on athletes, as well as other celebrities, is becoming increasingly evident.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, normally semi-active on Twitter, has been absent on the platform since March.

“Just needed a break,” he told me before diving into his obligation as assistant coach for Team USA men’s basketball.

In hopes of preserving their mental health, many active sports figures are deleting or otherwise avoiding social media, particularly during those moments when peak focus is required. Reports from the Olympic village in Japan indicate a number of high-profile athletes are taking temporary hiatus.

It is safe to presume many of the screeds directed at Simone Biles or Naomi Osaka are, like that which was directed at Jackson, included or specifically fixated on racist elements. Racism, despite some political figures insisting that it does not exist and perhaps never did, continues to fester in the community of the inhumane.

Which crossed all continents. Consider the abuse that was heaped on Black soccer players during the recent UEFA European Championship. Some of it was via social media, some of it in person, up close or from spectators in the stands. It was real and despicable.

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Same as it was five years ago, when the angry mobs came at Colin Kaepernick for having the temerity to shine a light on the social injustices that are a part of our daily lives.

Same as it was 50 years ago, when Henry Aaron dared to overtake Babe Ruth as Major League Baseball’s all-time home run king.

Aaron had a support system, mostly teammates who felt his pain. Kaepernick has his supporters, though the general response in America is colder than the embrace offered in other parts of the world. And most of the soccer world circled around those who felt the wrath of racism. Biles and Osaka are bathing in enough support to obscure the haters.

Jackson is thankful for the support. It’s coming from his teammates, from Giants manager Gabe Kapler, from a flock of baseball fans embarrassed that an angry few broke ranks and decrying their decision to go full racist.

“The overwhelming volume that I’ve gotten from everybody, it means a ton to me and I know it means a ton to my family,” Jackson told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Just the awareness that it’s bringing. And hopefully it helps other people as well.”

That’s the desire. Always the dream. In not keeping this to himself, Jackson performed a service for all. The world needs to know all the truths about itself, particularly the ugly ones that touch hearts and put fire in the belly of those promoting a better planet.