Red Sox

Beyond the Jones incident, it’s time to confront racism in Boston

Red Sox

“Boston is a racist city.”

That statement is often met with contempt by natives of “the Hub” and understandably so.

Why would one accept the fact that their home city was synonymous with racism in the Northeast? This would mean they’d also accept their own underlying prejudices rooted not only in their personal upbringing but based on a history that continues to promote the separation of the races and cultures it claims to embrace.

Better yet, maybe they’d have to face their former classmates who were bused miles away from home to “fix” this infamous segregation problem.

We get it.

What’s in the past should stay there, right?

It’s 2017, so racism in any form no longer exists.

Wrong.

For years this uncomfortable topic has been pushed to the back burner, slowly simmering, unattended, until another incident boils over. reminding everyone of the scalding-hot truth.

Monday night was one of those cases. Orioles center fielder Adam Jones told USA Today that he was the subject of racially charged language during a game at Fenway Park.

“A disrespectful fan threw a bag of peanuts at me.” He explained. "I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome.'' 

Red Sox team president Sam Kennedy issued a public apology Tuesday morning, saying, in part: “No player should have an object thrown at him on the playing field, nor be subjected to any kind of racism at Fenway Park. The Red Sox have zero tolerance for such inexcusable behavior, and our entire organization and our fans are sickened by the conduct of an ignorant few.” 

 

"This is unacceptable and not who we are as a city." Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told WBUR. "These words and actions have no place in Fenway, Boston or anywhere. We are better than this."

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker tweeted similar sentiments

Somewhere in Boston, when the weather gets nice, and there isn’t must to talk about on Boston sports radio (or a certain basketball team is trying to recruit a certain free agent) the question reemerges. The problem then becomes, of all the media members to speak on the subject, how many of them are actually people of color and have experienced this “said racism”? 

The reality is, one will not recognize, understand, acknowledge or even address racism, or even the everyday microaggressions people of color experience, if you are not willing to accept its existence. What happened to Adam Jones was disgusting but the bigger issue at hand were the fans who observed it happening and sat mute.

Our worldview is based on the people we grew up with and took the time to try and understand. There’s nothing wrong with embracing where you come from, but when David Ortiz, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts are the only black people you “know”, then comes the time to reevaluate the bubble you live in.

To be ‘racist’ in 2017 does not necessarily equate with white pointed hoodies and lynchings.

Conversations on race are fleeting. Everyone holds hands and sings Kumbaya at their local town hall meeting on “race relations” and by next week everyone forgets what happened.

Until the Bostonians are able to take an objective look back and understand the root of their problems, outsiders will continue to proclaim, “Boston is a racist city” and they won’t be far from the truth.