Boston: Confront Racism & Change? Really?

Boston can be a leader, we living in and around Boston can be leaders in fighting racism if we can find the will to do it. I see the need to start where we are doing things wrong and together maybe find a new path forward. The series has pointed out many important things but as best as I can tell it missed one--where we teach racism and silently accept it, and profit from it. Accepting in our sports venues teams with race based identities and stereotypical and often trivializing mascots is an almost invisible issue. The are the longstanding teams in the pros with Native American mascots and team names and we have those in our schools and throughout the leagues entrenched and often largely alumni embraced Native American team identities.


In honesty it took me, as a white woman, living and raising a family in the Cleveland area years to understand the issue. I had listed to baseball with a beloved uncle on summer porches and hearing the stories of the "good old days." The idea of racism being taught through team identity would have never crossed his thinking and I'm not sure he would have understood it or seen it as something ridiculous and liberal. But he was a good man and if he could have come to truly understand the issue I am guessing, since he has long passed on, that he would have taken the side of good. even back then he rejected racism as best as he understood it.


In Cleveland the team playing at the ironically named Progressive Field was always in the news with the protests on opening day and when the playoffs arrived. Yet despite the efforts of local Native Americans and their allies and friends nothing has changed really. But that was then and this is now and I live on the South Shore.


With almost 40 schools in Massachusetts promoting Native American team identities it is easy to see why the professional teams are quietly accepted. Our students, from the youngest ages, are taught this standard of behavior and race identification is acceptable. But when we teach our children to look at any group of people through the lens of stereotype and caricature we then should not wonder when they bully others on stereotype issues, when our adults fight along us/them lines and when our city has to mount a major security effort so white supremacists can safely exercise their free speech rights in the Common.


Because something is legal does not make it right. Legal is the standard our elected representatives and the courts have managed to establish as basic rules for our city and society to function. Integrity and moral actions are different. Boston has a unique place in American history., Today we have children and students from all over the world living and studying in our communities and schools. I would like to see this topic enter mainstream discussion. Right now in Quincy there is a struggle over the Red Raiders and its mascot Yakoo. Scholarship dollars may well be at stake if any student chooses to speak out against the mascot. This is not good and not right in 2017. I believe most people in Boston have good intentions but unless and until this topic has some large scale discussion and real change is happening in our communities and neighborhoods around it we are, in fact, still silently accepting and teaching racism. Before anyone slams back at me please, just learn and bit and think about this. If we refuse to learn and refuse to consider change we cement in the status quo and overall I do not see that as being a good thing,m for Boston, for Massachusetts or for our country.


Sports can bring everyone to the conversational table, be it electronic or local, church basement, locker room, playing field, or diner or boardroom. Let's get this conversation started!