Racism as Usual at Sports Stadiums, College Campuses

Sometimes I find it truly amazing these days when people hear of racist actions or events and are shocked, as if these things are new to America or as if racism started yesterday. A couple of racist events happened this past week. A white college student in Connecticut did everything she could, including something weird with a toothbrush, to get rid of her black roommate, and then, in a moment of utter stupidity, she bragged about it on Instagram.

People are actually shocked by this type of behavior. It’s hardly the first time racism has motivated a person or a group of people to act like morons to get rid of people of color or exclude a particular religion from a college campus or a neighborhood: Burning crosses, threats of lynching, swastikas, etc. Although this student’s toothbrush antics were a little extreme; her parents must be proud.

Another incident happened at Wheaton College of all places, where another college student dressed up in blackface on Halloween (I have serious concerns about the intelligence of our youth), which was encouraged by a few of her friends. The student was supposedly spoofing a movie called “White Chicks,” which featured two FBI detectives going undercover as white girls (complete with whiteface) at a college. If it was meant to be funny, it wasn’t, and neither was the movie it spoofed.

For their troubles, the student and her friends—who were on the college soccer team—were suspended for the rest of their season, which was just a little more time than the Houston Astros player who made a racist gesture at an Asian pitcher of the LA Dodgers. That Astros player was suspended for five games NEXT SEASON and was allowed to continue playing in the World Series, which, in my opinion, tainted what was otherwise a great fall classic.

First, blackface, especially these days, isn’t funny. Nor am I fond of blacks who paint themselves white believing it’s actually comedy. It’s like a POC dressing up in KKK robes—nothing humorous about that at all. Second, no one should be shocked about what happened in the series: racism and baseball have been dating for a long time. Remember, folks—Jackie Robinson became the first black ballplayer in the Major League in 1947, and the hostility toward POC in baseball remains.

As a kid, I remember the death threats Hank Aaron received as he came closer to Babe Ruth’s home run record. The kids who dropped the banner at Fenway Park that read, “Racism is as American as Baseball,” were dead on.

Finally, there’s Papa John’s founder and CEO, John Schnatter, blaming the NFL for not putting its foot down when it comes to its players kneeling. If that isn’t a thinly veiled racist statement, I don’t know what is. I’ve never had Papa John’s pizza and not for lack of trying. Although they would deny it, some pizza chains’ delivery services will not drive to certain urban areas (unless it’s near a college campus, of course). Also, remember—this is a guy who cut his employees’ hours so he wouldn’t have to pay them health insurance under Obamacare, not to mention the fact that he allows people like Peyton Manning and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (both of whom have been accused of sexual harassment) to hawk his products.

None of this should shock anyone. Racism is not new. Most people will blame this on Trump, and to a certain degree, they’re right—at least as far as the boldness is concerned. But you should be anything but shocked; racism’s always been here.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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