Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chapter Twenty-Five

In Which I Continue My Love-Hate Relationship With Mr. Gary Sheffield.


If you aren't up for a mega-rant, you may skip to the cliff notes.

Before I begin, allow me to reiterate that I love watching Gary Sheffield play baseball. I wish he was DHing for the Yankees right now. They desperately need him.

That being said:
"A lot of them look black on the outside but they are not black on the inside," Sheffield told me. "I can tell there are a lot of fake brothers (in baseball)."
This statement offends and infuriates me because it it takes a very serious and sensitive issue, that of racism, and twists it into something else. It is a totally perverse form of equivocation. It tries to tie the emotions surrounding the charge of racism to something that is decidedly not racism.

To any reasonable person, being black is something that you are. It is a trait, a characteristic. It is not the result of any choice or action on the part of anyone. Therefore, to any reasonable person, discriminating against a black person is discriminating against someone for something over which they have exactly zero influence. It's unjust.

To Gary Sheffield, being "black" has to do with how you act.

Let me be as frank as I can possibly be: I have every right to discriminate against someone on the basis of how they act. One's actions are a choice. An individual generally has complete control over and must accept responsibility for his actions.

We discriminate against people justly in society on the basis of their actions on a daily basis. People who break the speed limit get speeding tickets. People who drive under the limit do not. People who shoot other people go to prison. People who refrain from murder generally don't. I don't hang out with people who enjoy making me miserable. I feel that it's just to make war against people who would use facist governments to enslave their own people.

The list goes on and on and on and on.

I wish I could say that this is the last time I will say this, but it probably won't be:

No one has the right to act anyway they wish regardless of the consequences.

Are we clear on this point? When people, and it isn't just Gary Sheffield, make the claim that in order to be black, one must act a certain way, they are slapping every black person who decided they'd do it differently in the face.

Who says that you have to be a selfish, race-baiting, egotistical, faux-victimized, irresponsible cry-baby in order to be considered black?

If you have a college degree, are you not black?

If you have no children outside of wedlock, are you not black?

If you prefer classical music to hip-hop, are you not black?

If you just believe in going to work everyday and working your hardest for your employer, are you not fucking black?!

If I have an employee who shows up to work late everyday, takes smoking breaks every hour, doesn't work well with other employees or customers, and believes that he's entitled to my respect regardless, I'm going to fire him, black, white, or whatever. It makes no difference if my recalcitrant employee maintains that his attitude stems from his race.

Irrespective of which social norms are just and unjust, these norms exist to aid in the formation of positive social contributors. If the predominant attitude among black people violates just social norms, it is the predominant attitude among black people that needs to change, not the social norms. To insinuate otherwise is an insult to all black people who follow just social norms in spite of what people like Gary Sheffield think.

In other words:

No, Gary Sheffield. You are wrong.

**EDIT** It bears mentioning that the linked article is actually more idiotic that Mr. Sheffield's quote(s). Essentially, the author believes that black baseball players need to wake up because those racist, white owners are outsourcing their jobs to cheap, Latino labor. This ignores two key points:
  1. If Latino labor is cheaper for the same level of talent (and it isn't), then the decision to go with Latino labor isn't racist at all. It's simply the smart way to run a business. Only an idiot pays more for the same product.
  2. Black baseball players don't need to wake up. By definition, these are the blacks who already have jobs in baseball. Therefore, it isn't their jobs being taken by Latinos. Rather, it is the blacks who could have jobs in baseball but don't for whom a wakeup call may be necessary.
Again, this influx of Latino and soon Asian players is only a problem if it excludes black athletes who are more talented than their foreign counterparts. It appears that this is not the case. Rather, black athletes appear to be choosing to play basketball and football instead of baseball. The paucity of black baseball players is not caused by systematic racism but by the aggregate choices of individual black athletes. As Yogi Berra might have said, if blacks athletes don't want to play baseball, how are you going to stop them?


die Amerikanerin said...

I read through that entire article, and I have to agree, it is more amusing that Sheffield's quote.

Jack Lynch said...

John - well said indeed - and I loved the Yogi quote - perfectly placed. I would recommend dropping the f word though.

John Lynch said...

I use the "f word" sparingly. If I use it, I use it to punctuate a point.