Glanville: On Jackie Robinson Day, the work continues

From Doug Glanville at The Athletic on April 15, 2019:

“What​ is it​ about your people that make you​ so​ incredibly lazy?”

This was​ the question​ out of the​ mouth​ of​​ my blond-haired Team USA teammate in the Goodwill Games in North Jersey in 1987, when I was 16 years old. Representing our country, we were playing Japan, hosting their players in a cultural exchange (one player stayed at my house for the week). Yet the guy wearing Team USA across his chest, just like me, asked me this question jovially, as if he was asking my favorite color.

I wondered what to make of it. In baseball, the opponent is in the other dugout. They wear different uniforms, color schemes, symbols. In these international affairs, it is more than the uniforms — a clash of cultures, with different traditions, approaches, beliefs. In the Goodwill Games, the idea is that despite these differences, we come together through respect and an open mind to learn from each other, with the game as our bridge, our common language.

So how it is that the guy wearing the same uniform as me now seems like as much of an opponent as the players in the other dugout?

It was an early rendition of the discussion we have today, about who has the right to be somewhere, and how that connects with race in America. The second-class citizenship that plagues disenfranchised groups of people, who understand the emotional fallout of being questioned so flippantly.

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Originally published: April 19, 2019. Last Updated: April 19, 2019.