Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Torii Hunter on Race

These comments by Torii Hunter are going to cause outrage by a few white folks who are still enamored of the idea that race is genetic.  But Torii is right. Dominican's are not African-American. They may still have problems getting a cab in New York, but they don't share the culture that makes people black. His concern that baseball is masking its problems with race by importing dark skinned latin players is not entirely unfounded either. Whether deliberately or not, the presence of dark skinned latin players has masked the declining number of African-American players in the game. That has been a special concern of Hunters and he has put a lot of effort into promoting baseball in his community. Its not clear that effort has been supported with any real resources from major league baseball. Certainly not the kind of resources that go into the Dominican and Venezuela leagues.  That has to be frustrating.

One of the best reactions was from Ozzie Guillen who suggests that Latin players are going to take over the game entirely. He may be right and that would be a shame for America's pastime.

http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/mlb/news/story?id=4983236&campaign=rss&source=twitter&ex_cid=Twitter_espn_4983236

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

You do realize Dominicans are African right? Sure there not American, but they arrived on there island the same way Africans on our continent did, through slavery. By agreeing with Hunter you only make yourself look more like an ignorant bigot.

TT said...

"You do realize Dominicans are African right?"

So what?

"By agreeing with Hunter you only make yourself look more like an ignorant bigot."

To the contrary, one of my points was that he was going to take a lot of flack from bigots who continue to think race is genetic. Your post is a prime example.

The reality is that African-Americans are a distinct cultural group with common African ancestry only a small part of the the cultural heritage they share. They have no more in common with Dominicans than Norwegians have. But people can't see past skin color.

There are plenty of "white" Americans with African ancestry. That doesn't make them African-Americans.

TT said...

And here is what Wikipedia has to say about the demographics of the Dominican:

"The ethnic composition of the Dominican population is 73% multiracial, 16% white, and 11% black.[1] The multiracial population is primarily a mixture of European and African, with a notable amount of Taíno ancestry as well."

Of course under US racists' one drop rule, "multiracial" is the same as black.

John H said...

Forget the race business. Tori's point is that young black kids in the states don't grow up playing baseball like he did. I believe it for sure. My son played ball for the Minneapolis Youth Baseball Association. Out of about 400 kids that tried out each year only 4 or 5 were black. In contrast his hockey team had 2 or 3 black kids skating. About the same number of kids tried out for hockey but I can't say how many were black because of the helmets and all. I just knew the kids on my son's team. It's still hard for me to believe we had more black hockey players than baseball.

Anonymous said...

But people can't see past skin color.

Yeah, sad but true. People like Torii Hunter can't see past skin color.

TT said...

"Yeah, sad but true. People like Torii Hunter can't see past skin color."

Some people apparently can't read. Torii is the one that said skin color didn't make you African-American.

TT said...

"Yeah, sad but true. People like Torii Hunter can't see past skin color."

Apparently some people can't read. Torii is the one saying skin color doesn't make you African American.

Anonymous said...

When I saw the headline, I assumed he was being playful and trying to provide a funny quote that got taken out of context. But it seems his point is that the people who make baseball a diverse sport are the wrong minorities, and MLB is somehow dubiously trying to pass off latino players as black to get some sort of quota so they look diverse. In my opinion, that's stupid. He should stick with finding ways to encourage black kids to play baseball and not make statements like this.

TT said...

http://www.twinkietown.com/2010/3/10/1366877/torii-hunter-black-latin-players

Above is a link to the kind of discussion I expected. A bunch of people arguing that race is genetic, so if you have a drop of African blood and live in North America, you are "African-American". Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

I suspect it gets a bit frustrating to hear fans and even people in baseball deny there is a shortage of black players by pointing to players from the Dominican who happen to have dark skin. Especially for a guy like Torii, who has spent a lot of his own time and money promoting the sport in the African-American community.

Anonymous said...

Torii is the one saying skin color doesn't make you African American.

Right. As I said, it's a shame some people--like Torii Hunter--can't see past skin color.

Or is Torii saying "the wrong darkies are playing baseball" somehow different?

You're an idiot, TT.

TT said...

"You're an idiot, TT."

No, I am just not a racist bigot who calls people "darkies" and thinks race is based on skin color.

To put it bluntly, you seem to think a "darkie" is a "darkie" is a "darkie" no matter where they are from, what language they speak or what their cultural traditions are. One drop of blood from someone who came from the African continent is all that matters.

Anonymous said...

To put it bluntly, you seem to think a "darkie" is a "darkie" is a "darkie" no matter where they are from

No, to put it bluntly, I'm someone who thinks race, or color, is irrelevant, and for someone like Torii Hunter to say blacks from Latin America are 'imposter' blacks is outrageous. And someone who thinks Hunter should be taken to task for saying such garbage.

And someone who thinks you're an idiot to defend him.

TT said...

"I'm someone who thinks race, or color, is irrelevant,"

Then what difference does it make whether Dominicans are from Africa or Scandanavia? Hunter's point was that is irrelevant. Either way, they aren't African-Americans.

If you don't think it matters whether there are African-American's in the game or not, fine. Hunter does. He has spent a lot of his time and money promoting the game in his community. And fighting closet racists who can't tell a Dominican from an African-American. All the while claiming "color doesn't matter".

Anonymous said...

Then what difference does it make whether Dominicans are from Africa or Scandanavia?

It doesn't.

Hunter's point was that is irrelevant. Either way, they aren't African-Americans.

Which would mean that Hunter's point was that it IS relevant. Somehow, being African-American is important. That was his entire point.


And fighting closet racists who can't tell a Dominican from an African-American. All the while claiming "color doesn't matter".

So tell us, TT, why is it important that I, or anybody else, be able to tell the difference between a Dominican and an African-American?

Shouldn't we be arguing about people's merits as baseball players, rather than whether or not Dominicans are really black or not?

TT said...

Here is where this conversation started:

Anonymous: "You do realize Dominicans are African right?"

Now it doesn't matter. Make up your mind. Sorry if I can't distinguish between the different anonymous name-calling cowards with an attitude.

"Somehow, being African-American is important. ... Shouldn't we be arguing about people's merits as baseball players"

No kidding? Jeez, maybe we shouldn't pay any attention to the fact that Joe Mauer is a Minnesotan either. And the next time there is a World Baseball Classic the best players should be chosen, regardless of what country they are from.

I don't think there is anything wrong with Hunter wanting to promote the game of baseball in his community. I don't think there is anything wrong with him being concerned about the declining number of blacks in the game. And I don't think there is anything wrong with him expressing offense when someone points at a Dominican in response to that concern and pretends since he has black skin there isn't a problem. In fact, I think he should be offended.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with Hunter wanting to promote the game of baseball in his community. I don't think there is anything wrong with him being concerned about the declining number of blacks in the game. And I don't think there is anything wrong with him expressing offense when someone points at a Dominican in response to that concern and pretends since he has black skin there isn't a problem. In fact, I think he should be offended.

I agree with this. Where he put his foot in his mouth is when he suggested there's some sort of agenda to keep blacks out of baseball or to mislead people to think there are more blacks by bringing in "imposter" dark skinned latinos.

I think the interest in baseball among black people is the result of circumstance - availability, preferring other sports, whatever else. Not a conscious decision to bring in cheaper Latinos.

TT said...

"Where he put his foot in his mouth "

He may not have expressed himself clearly - or maybe his most inflammatory comments were pulled to give that impression. But I don't think he did put his foot in his mouth.

As I said above. I don't think baseball has put the same resources into the African-American community that it has into the Dominican or Venezuela. And I don't think it is unreasonable to think some of the reason for that is that they will cost more to sign.

I also don't think that if the league was all white guys that baseball wouldn't be concerned that it had a problem. A PR problem if nothing else. And I don't think it is unreasonable to think that the presence of foreign players masks that reality and makes it easier for them to ignore the problem.

If you put Hunter's comments in the context of his work to increase African-American participation in the game, I don't think they are unreasonable. Some of them are clearly hyperbole, like "a bag of potato chips", but that hardly makes them offensive.

And yeh, conspiracy theories are almost always a stretch. You don't need to imagine the owners sitting down to figure out ways to exclude people from the game to see that it may be in their interest not to address the problem. At least not to the extent Torii would like and thinks they should.

But lets be clear. None of that is what people found offensive. It was his suggestion that Dominicans weren't black. That they were "imposters". And I don't think that response is because anyone imagined Hunter was blaming the Dominicans. Its that people are very uncomfortable with that frontal assault on the notion of race as genetic. That being African-American is not about skin color.

Anonymous said...

I don't think baseball has put the same resources into the African-American community that it has into the Dominican or Venezuela. And I don't think it is unreasonable to think some of the reason for that is that they will cost more to sign.

But that's not a Latino/african american thing, that's a draft/international development thing. There is a lot more opportunity to gain competitive advantage by pouring money into international development camps because there's no international draft. The Twins could put all sorts of resources into inner city baseball academies and still have the Royals draft the best player it generates.

Anonymous said...

I don't think baseball has put the same resources into the African-American community that it has into the Dominican or Venezuela.

a)why should they, and b) what resources has baseball put into the white-american community?

and c) why is Hunter backpeddling from his statements just as fast and vigorously as he can?

TT said...

"why should they"

For the same reason they invest in the Dominican and Venezuela. Because the African-American community is a potential source of great players.

"what resources has baseball put into the white-american community"

I wish you were kidding, but I am sure you aren't. Its not about race, except when its about race.

"that's not a Latino/african american thing, that's a draft/international development thing"

Its both, isn't it? I agree baseball has set things up to reward clubs more for investing in those countries. That is a choice they made. They certainly could figure out ways to invest in promoting baseball more in the African-American community. They have chosen not to.

But I don't think Torii was trying to make a specific point about that. He was just expressing his frustration that when he pushes baseball to do more to get young African-Americans into the game. He gets push back calling his attention to all the dark skinned Dominican players.

Ben said...

You:
I don't think baseball has put the same resources into the African-American community that it has into the Dominican or Venezuela. And I don't think it is unreasonable to think some of the reason for that is that they will cost more to sign.

Me:
"that's not a Latino/african american thing, that's a draft/international development thing"

You:

Its both, isn't it? I agree baseball has set things up to reward clubs more for investing in those countries. That is a choice they made. They certainly could figure out ways to invest in promoting baseball more in the African-American community. They have chosen not to.


No, it's not both. It's domestic/foreign. The idea that baseball invests less in blacks is not a fair accusation. The idea that baseball has taken away from domestic scouting to put their resources into international development is fair.

Again, I think it's great that Torii is doing what he can to generate interest in baseball among the black youth community. There is a lack of interest right now, but it's not because of something MLB did. It's because basketball and football are more popular with that community.

What should MLB be doing to encourage more black kids to focus on it? And why shouldn't they do the exact same thing for every kid in the US?

And to be clear, there were multiple people posting without a username, I should have logged in before.

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