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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thanks For Pointing That Out, I Guess You're Excused

People are stopping me on the street and interrupting my meals. They all have one question, "What the hell are you talking about? You can't be the victim of racism - you're white! And anyway, those stories you told weren't about racism, so get yourself together and stop rocking the boat."

Oh yeah, watch this.

I coached girls fastpitch softball for five years among the twenty or so years I was a volunteer coach. This was a miserable experience, filled with occasionally wonderful kids, and incredibly horrible adults. I could do two weeks on the adults alone, and if I run out of things to write about I just may.

Anyway, back to walking the fine line of talking about race in 2011.

The last game I ever coached I was called a racist twice. This was on a team of sixteen- and seventeen-year old girls. Without going into detail in order to protect identities, I decided to sit a player who showed up late for a tournament without any notice. This was after a long string of warnings about lack of preparation and dedication. Unfortunately, the player I sat was the only black player on the team. Since I was interested in teaching life lessons and winning softball games, I did not walk on eggshells regarding race. I was not interested in race. I was interested in heart. Man, I hate when I am naive like that. The parents of this young lady proceeded to raise a stink like Fresh Meadows in summer, calling me every horrible name they could think of. Of course, each name was preceded with claims that I was a racist and that I had been unfair to their daughter because of her race all season. In reality I was a pretty strict coach, I was fair but I was there to coach, not be Prom King. This kid could actually have been a great player if she had been interested in working, but that's another story.

Later in the same game, a tight game for the championship of the tournament, I noticed a player of mine texting someone while she was in the field of play. In the dugout after the inning, she missed her at-bat because she was texting. As coaches are known to do, I called her out on this. Unfortunately, this player was the only Hispanic on the team. After I called her out she threw a tantrum, used extreme profanity and left. Her mother, a fiery Latina in her own right, stormed into the dugout and screamed at me how racist I was because I pointed out what her daughter was doing and not what anyone else was doing. I mentioned to mom that everyone else on the team was trying to win the game so they didn't need a reprimand. A few months later I found out the father of this kid is a detective with the Essex County Sheriff's Office. If that doesn't give you pause for thought, nothing will.

We lost the game, and that was the last time I ever coached any rotten, unappreciative kid ever. In fact, it was even the last time I coached the kids who made coaching worthwhile. They're all your problem now.

What's my point? My point is racism is not the domain of whitey. In addition, my point is I am afraid we've instilled a permanent state of anger and failure into generations of kids as we've bent over backwards to make up for the stupidity of generations gone before. Why bother working when you can claim the person in charge is racist if you fail? The problem with this is all it does is perpetuate racial tension and ignorance. I think you're a racist, so you avoid interacting with people like me so you won't be called racist, so people like me think you are racist because there is no interaction. All of us suffer. It's actually quite simple.

Obviously I am taking two tiny incidents in a long coaching career to make my point, so please don't write to me and point that out.

There are stupid people in all races, and you can't have a thriving society when people judge not what a person does, but what the color of their skin is. We'd better start viewing race as a two-way street or our society will cease to function. Better yet, when are we all going to get to the point that we see ballplayers or coaches, or any other segment of society without noticing what race they are first?

That until there are no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes
Me say war - Bob Marley War

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