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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Boston and racism

Unfortunately, my experiences render this as not surprising at all (reader discretion advised):

Of course, I understand - with my rational mind - that the stupidity of a few shouldn't be applied to the many. This series of tweets does not mean "Boston is a racist city and all Bostonians are racists." Nor is it even logical to assume that all the tweeters who posted this filth are actually Bostonians.Nor can we even conclude that all who posted are indeed racist any more than mischievous (this is a stretch, but no doubt some are just doing it for a kick). 

I'm a rational person, and any time spent perusing the posts here at DD's Sports Talk will aptly demonstrate reasoned, level-headed thinking from both myself as well as Big Mac.

However, it just goes to show how easy it can be for some event or happening to trigger this kind barrage of racial slurry - people should know full well that participating in this kind of behaviour will have repercussions.

The problem is, magnified through the lens of my limited experience when travelling in the Greater Boston Area, rationality is challenged by the emotions of hating racism.

Years ago, I was in the Greater Boston area, minding my own business, when a car drove by, full of what appeared to be young men (teens, twenty-somethings, I've no idea, as what happened, happened fast). What happened? Someone from the car yelled out "Hey, you fucking nigger" as it passed me. I was stunned by the implications.

This wasn't some back swamp in the Deep South - I was in the northern state of Massachusetts: a state hosting several fine Ivy League and other higher institutions of higher learning, including Harvard, MIT, and Tufts; a state that attracts young minds from around the world; a state that is presumed to be progressive. Yet, there I was, standing on the corner, minding my own business, being called "nigger," which never happened to me in the Deep South.

It dawned on me that, had this been a drive-by shooting, I might already be dead, because I didn't see it coming at all.

Again, stereotypes are damaging. I know that "all Asian people are not bad drivers, and all Jewish people are not cheap, and all Black people are not criminals, and all White people are not racist." I know that.

In my rational mind.

But emotions are not rational. I suppose that the emotion of the Bruins losing in game 7 got the better of too many people willing to spew the worst. For me to give in to my emotions and say "see, I knew it, Boston is a racist city" would be, almost, to justify these tweeters in letting their emotions inform their speech.

If there is any good to come from this ugly episode, it's to draw renewed attention to the state of affairs in our society today - racism is not dead, and to think otherwise is to not be thinking at all.

DD's Sports Talk has, since its inception, not shied away from real issues that crop up out of the world of sports, and surely this would be no exception.

Will we ever kill racism? Probably not. Will we ever quit fighting racism? Definitely not.


  1. We're clearly on the same wavelength - I had considered doing a blog on the Toronto Marlies pursuit of the Calder Cup, but upon hearing this garbage this morning over the radio on my way to the office, I realized I'd been cut off at the pass.

    Your experience in Boston (it's amazing they allow knuckle-draggers such as those to operate motor vehicles) is an unfortunate condition that appears present in some Bostonians. A good friend of mine had gone to attend a Bruins playoff game last season during the Cup finals, and was attending with a friend of hers. She is the most die-hard of Bruins fans, as was her friend attending (both proud Torontonians). What her friend also is, however, is a homosexual. At the game, DESPITE being dressed in Bruins gear from head to toe, some highly enlightened individual decided to say to her friend "Why don't you go back to Canada, you faggot."

    How is it that in one of the academic and intellectual epicentres of the hemisphere, and possibly the world, we see this kind of mind-numbing ignorance? It reminds me of some kind of Greek tragic comedy.

    Let me be clear about this - it is not a Boston bashing response, as to decry all Bostonians as ignorant and racist is no better than any other blanket hatred or discrimination. Nor is it an indication of the American people - technically speaking, racism is a far greater problem in Central and Western Europe which never had a Civil Rights movement to ignite a cause. There was no Martin Luther King, and there was no Dream. This has never become more apparent than in Pro Soccer in Europe, as black players are still the subject of horrific taunts, and in some cases straightaway violence.

    Alas, I digress.

    As a white male, I can say without pride that I'll likely not be subject to any form of discrimination. As a result, I cannot say that I can understand the emotions unearthed by that kind of backwater idiocy. With that in mind, there is something to be said for the fact that those of us who value humanity vastly outnumber those who value prejudice and malice.

    While we may not be able to kill racism in our lifetime, or perhaps our childrens lifetime, or perhaps even before the species finds a way to self-destruct, one thing is for sure :

    Racism may not be dead, but it's dying.

  2. We definitely want to hear your take on the Marlies going after the Calder Cup, be sure to get back to it!

    White people, males included are stereotyped, too. Notice how television commercials make vogue of the "buffoon of a husband" with the "all-knowing wife"? The white male has been "Homer Simpsoned" while women are "patient Marge", partly because most ad execs are (presumably) white males who are hesitant to derive humor from any other person type to avoid criticism, so they figure no one will complain if we all laugh at the white male.

    I'm developing a diversity training workshop for Durham College and it's important to understand that stereotyping hurts everyone and no one is immune - we're all in this together.

    And, yes, I align with your assertion for clarity - this isn't about Boston-bashing. It's fun when we do the point-counterpoint thing, but it also quite a statement when we agree, and we certainly do in this situation.

    Recently, I tweeted that I don't like the Bruins, or Patriots (sorry, man!) or Red Sox. But, the Celtics? I don't mind them. Not sure what it is that I don't like about Boston, maybe that experience had something to do with it, but one thing's for certain, it's a sports town with an attitude and expectation of winning. Piling on the Superbowls, World Series, NBA championships and Stanley Cups in the last decade will make a lot of resentment, and the town probably doesn't care a whole lot what people think when they are winners, in terms of sport, anyway. As a sports fan, whether I'm a fan or not, I respect their winning. Are you kidding me? I live in mediocre Toronto, and we don't know a whole lot about winning, do we?

    Ultimately, I think that we saw two things in this unfortunate racist-tweeting episode that you've hit on - "those who value humanity do vastly outnumber those who value prejudice and malice" (nicely put, mate). We saw, much to our chagrin, that racism is still quite bold in having the audacity to use such terms in so public a manner. AND, we saw, in response, all kinds of statements of disgust, disapproval and general counter statements condemning the racist rant - that reinforcement that such sentiments are not fit for public expression is indeed encouraging.