On the morning of Tuesday June 2 something happened on social media. All people from all walks of life came together in honor of George Floyd. The term Black Lives Matter became an accepted part of our collective consciousness. It’s crazy to think about how quickly the world changed in a single week. If only it didn’t take a video which showed a man tortured to death for eight minutes to do this.
Just think of where our world has been in recent years. It wasn’t that long ago where Colin Kaepernick took a knee as a way to call for police reform. This quiet gesture led to Kaep being blackballed from the NFL. Even some of the more progressive-minded people in this world like Ruth Bader Ginsberg went out and said what he did was “dumb” and “disrespectful.” The irony of it all was that an American veteran told him he should do this.
This is what Nate Boyer, veteran, and former Seahawks long snapper, told Kaep:
“I expressed to him, maybe there’s a different way of demonstrating, where you’re showing more respect for those who laid down their lives for what that flag and anthem stand for,” Boyer said. “I suggested kneeling, because people kneel to pray; we’ll kneel in front of a fallen brother’s grave.”
So on June 2, 2020 when the world finally came together and voiced a message that has made Kaepernick an alleged un-American pariah, the Yankees used their voice the way everyone else did. At least, they somewhat did that. Here is what they tweeted out and posted on their social media accounts.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 2, 2020
You could argue this Nelson Mandela quote wasn’t enough. Especially since over in Queens, the New York Mets were one of the first teams in Major League Baseball to flat out say on social media that Black Lives Matter. Personally I liked this gesture by the Yankees. At least they weren’t being quiet about what was happening in the world around them.
I didn’t think anybody who said their gesture wasn’t enough was wrong though. Mandela’s quote rings true but the Yankees weren’t fully acknowledging what happened. They didn’t come out and say that the murder of George Floyd was a part of a long-standing tradition of racial disparity here in the United States.
It wasn’t the first time the Yankees sort of skirted alongside the culture while not fully diving into the deeper-rooted issue which were so painfully obvious. When those children were murdered in Sandy Hook elementary the Yankees acknowledged it. The organization alongside the Boston Red Sox honored those kids together on Opening Day. What they left out was that this was yet another incident of senseless gun violence here in the United States.
This was the Yankees though. Nobody said anything then because you never really expected them to ever dive deeper into the important issues at hand. When the world went corporate they fully embraced keeping one’s opinions to themselves because that is the “Yankee way.”
Yeah, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter went above and beyond to reach out to families who lost children at Sandy Hook the way players like James Paxton spoke openly about racial injustice here in America but the team, in general, kept itself on the fence. For a week it looked like they would stick with the safe route.
Six days later Yankee organization as a whole broke their silence. In a sense, they actually broke the “Yankee way” of philosophically keeping your head down when they finally said what the world had been saying. They actually released a statement that said, Black Lives Matter. To be honest I was shocked they actually used the verbiage. Here were the corporate and safe Yankees finally acknowledging what the world was thinking.
Statement from the New York Yankees. pic.twitter.com/SSRlZ8j51F
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 8, 2020
Were they late? Sure.
Then again we as a country were late to admitting this statement as well. We should have acknowledged Black Lives Matter when Lincoln risked losing this country to free the slaves. We should have acknowledged Black Lives Matter when the southern states completely ravaged reconstruction and created systemic issues of racism we are clearly still seeing today. It should have been said with Emmet Till and Amadou Diallo.
Hell, this should have been something I acknowledged. I can’t in good faith criticize the Yankees for doing what they did when I have done the same in my personal life for years.
When Kaepernick was essentially ousted from the NFL I bought his jersey thinking this was a gesture of standing in solidarity with him. Between that and quietly donating to Black Lives Matter, I never really said anything about it in public.
At the time of the election, I was pretty adamant about these issues but that was before I had begun cultivating a little bit of a following on Instagram and before I joined the Bronx Pinstripes and used Twitter more often. Here I was with the opportunity to say things finally. My posts weren’t just being blurted out into a social media void with no eyes on it as it was for most of my life and I just became quiet. Before I had a little bit of platform I would get angry at people not defending Kaepernick and I did that myself.
This also comes along with my own baggage of growing up and not even realizing the things I said and thought were actually pretty damn racist. I can use the excuse that I was young and stupid but at this point, I just don’t want to. It’s important to live with that baggage. I didn’t live in rural Mississippi but grew up in New York. I had friends who were Black, Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Muslim and had every reason to not be ignorant.
For so long I was skirting the way the Yankees skirted. The part of me that finally began feeling strongly about social issues in my mid-20’s to today also wanted to stay quiet because I have family in law enforcement. I didn’t want them to think I was against them.
That was another cop-out on my part because what we are calling for when we say Black Lives Matter is police reform. Police reform is something that helps everyone. It helps the civilians the police serve and it helps those in uniform as well. These days it feels like common place where a bad cop’s senseless act could be used as a reason for revenge against police officers. If we change certain policies, the police and the people might finally come together.
So many have stayed quiet to save face that a lot of us shouldn’t be too mad at the Yankees for releasing a statement saying Black Lives Matter a week later. If you’ve always been saying it passionately then yeah. You have free range. People like myself and the many others who finally have begun speaking are truly no different than them.
Had we acted generations ago we wouldn’t be in the position we are now where the black men and women see a traffic stop as life and death. They should just get a ticket and drive away pissed off that they have to change their stupid headlights like the rest of us. This is so ridiculously simple but video after video shows us that not everyone has this privilege.
In a week where it seemed like we’re living in an alternate universe with the Yankees finally speaking out and saying Black Lives Matter, Mitt Romney leading a protest in Washington, D.C. and the outspoken conservative congressman Dan Crenshaw also calling for justice for George Floyd, our country might be headed in the right direction. It’s what we could hope for at least.
If everybody coming together can push law enforcement to finally stop protecting those cops who abuse their power, we’ll heal. It’s the kind of healing that we should have done during reconstruction after the Civil War. To finally get to this point in the 2020s is a beautiful thought but also a sad one.
We were all so late to do this. While it is late, to finally be reaching a point where we are beginning to move forward is nice. You already see a little bit of that today where officers are kneeling and walking with protestors. That’s not something I ever imagined seeing after the deaths of Eric Garner and Freddy Gray.