Admit the Problem
Sports fans love to quote the movie “Apollo 13” and say, “Houston, we have a problem.”
At the moment, the Houston sports scene could not be much better.
It is Boston that has a problem.
Sure, the New England Patriots have won five Super Bowls and the Boston Celtics have won 17 NBA championships, but the image of Boston as a racist city will continue after Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones become the victim of racial epithets from the Red Sox faithful at Fenway Park recently.
The problem is not just the fact that a fan felt comfortable yelling the N-word to Jones in front of tens of thousands of people.
The bigger problem is that some in the Boston media industry want proof that it happened, like Black children in the 1970s being attacked by White parents protesting school busing, or the fact that former Celtics legend Bill Russell’s house was not broken into, walls sprayed with racial slurs and his bed defecated on were all figments of Black folks’ collective imagination.
The fact that certain people will not even admit that there is racism in Boston proves to me that there is an excessive amount of racism in Boston.
Only the most racist people on the planet refuse to admit that racism exists.
In 2014 when I visited Boston the first time, I did not think of Paul Revere, the American Revolution, clam chowder, New Edition, James “Whitey” Bulger or Red Auerbach.
When I visited Boston for the first time, all I could see was young Black children the age of my sister and older cousins being attacked by White adults simply because of the color of their skin in the late 1970s.
When I think back to those images, I see ignorance, anger, racism, hate and violence.
Unfortunately for Boston, that was my image of their city then and because of what current and former Black professional baseball players have said about racism in Boston, it is still my image of the city.
What Boston residents have to realize is it takes a long time and admitting guilt for a city to change its reputation whether that is fair or not.
And while no one wants to paint an entire city with a broad brush, Boston gets no pass when it comes to evil because no other city associated with evil got a pass either.
It took Dallas a long time to shed the image of a city of assassins after the brutal shooting of former President John F. Kennedy. It was not until the success of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and the popular late night soap opera bearing the city’s name that the town began taking on a new image.
It took Philadelphia, Miss. almost two decades (until the emergence of high school football sensation Marcus Dupree in the early 1980s) to overcome the fact the residents and police officers played a role in the assassination of three civil rights workers in the 1960s.
Unfortunately for Boston, it has been 40-50 years since the Russell’s story and anti-busing demonstrations surfaced and they still have not erased that image.
Maybe that is why many Southern cities and states have apologized to African-Americans for their past oppression of the African-American community.
Everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a big person to admit those mistakes and try to make up for them.
Boston media members asking Jones for proof of racism in Boston must not think that mistakes have been made in the city’s treatment of Black residents and athletes.
If they cannot see any mistakes in the department of Boston race relations, then they are a huge part of the problem, no if, ands or buts about it.
In my mind, the people who doubt Jones’ description of the racist incident are racist themselves and they gave me proof by opening their mouths.