Showalter on the situation in Baltimore

I’m late to this, but it’s worth quoting Buck Showalter’s comments from after Wednesday’s surreal game, in which the Orioles hosted the White Sox in an empty stadium. The prompt was a question from a reporter about what advice the Orioles manager would give to “the young black males in the city of Baltimore?”

Showalter’s response:

“You hear people try to weigh in on things that they really don’t know anything about,” Showalter said, as transcribed by MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli. “I tell guys all the time when they talk about it … I’ve never been black, OK? So I don’t know. I can’t put myself there. I’ve never faced the challenges that they face, so I understand the emotion, but I can’t … It’s a pet peeve of mine when somebody says, ‘Well, I know what they’re feeling. Why don’t they do this? Why doesn’t somebody do that?’ You have never been black, OK? So just slow down a little bit.“ 

I try not to get involved in something that I don’t know about, but I do know that it’s something that’s very passionate, something that I am, with my upbringing, that it bothers me and it bothers everybody else. We’ve made quite a statement as a city, some good and some bad. Now, let’s get on with taking the statements we’ve made (and) create a positive. We talk to players, and I want to be a rallying force for our city. It doesn’t mean necessarily playing good baseball. It just means everything we can do. … “There are some things I don’t want to be normal (in Baltimore again). You know what I mean, right? I don’t. I want us to learn from some stuff that’s gone on on both sides of it. I could talk about it for hours, but that’s how I feel about it.”

This quote reminds me of something Dan Le Batard said a few years ago, in an interview he gave to the Big Lead. Le Batard offered useful perspective on race, context and false equivalence when discussing some racially-inflected and controversial remarks Michael Irvin had made about Tony Romo’s ancestry. Rick Reilly, spouting the usual nonsense, had said that had Irvin been white and Romo black, Irvin would have been fired for his comments.

Le Batard’s response:

I’ve heard a lot of white people say what you have said Reilly wrote. Don’t agree with him. God, we’re so sensitive. Too sensitive. We’re so willing to end a broadcaster or executive’s entire career over a few words. We love firing people. I wonder how Rick would feel if he wrote one dumb sentence and got fired over it (JW: Rick wrote plenty of dumb sentences in his career). We’re too willing to erase too much good work over a mistake. And I’m just as tired of hearing white people bitch about the double standard here as white people are of hearing cries of racism. Yes, black people can say things white people can’t. But Jimmy The Greek and Al Campanis don’t make up for slavery, OK? They don’t make up for the fact that just about every person in a position of power in sports is white and hiring other white people. They don’t make up for the fact that 6 of 1 million college-football coaches are black because all the people in power and making the decisions are white and they tend to hire other white people because if you looked around the room at their parties and galas and weddings, all you would see is white people.”

Sometimes it behooves us white folks to be humble about, or at least acknowledge what we, generally speaking, have *not* had to endure, rather than presume superior wisdom, especially when it’s not been forged by actual trial.

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