I settled in to watch Game Three of the 1991 World Series, maybe the most exciting series ever. Five of the seven games were one run games; three went into extra innings, and one was a walk off. But at this point in time, Minnesota was leading two games to none and traveling to Atlanta for game three.
The original Braves were born in Boston in 1912. After the upstart Red Sox came to town, the older team eventually became the Braves. Team owner James Gaffney was part of New York’s Tammany Hall political machine, and their symbol was an Indian Chief; thus the Braves.
That team moved to Milwaukee in 1953, and to Atlanta in 1966. With very little post season success, and therefore little national exposure, the Braves weren’t initially implicated in the push to remove Native nicknames from American sports teams.
That all changed in 1991. We were a more caring, feeling, and apologetic nation by then and protests sprung up almost immediately after the Braves finished off the Pittsburgh Pirates to qualify for the World Series.
As I watched the pregame festivities outside Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium, the news crew focused on a group representing the Native American Movement protesting the Braves’ nickname. What appeared to be a Good Ole’ Georgia Boy walked by and muttered to the group “Why don’t y’all go back where you came from?”
The irony and ridiculousness of that moment was priceless, but the sentiment is inescapable. Well before baseball in Atlanta, people have voiced idiotic ideas about who and what matters where human belonging is involved. Improvement has been minimal.
Whether we’re talking about race, religion, national origin, sexual predestination, politics, or sadly, team affiliation, humans have the desire to vilify other humans without evidence to the contrary, or common sense.
In America, mostly due to slavery’s continued influence, Racism is the major culprit, although we’re fully capable of targeting any diverse group for any reason. In many cases people are fighting one another to their own detriment.
Poor, white Southerners have spent the last fifty or so years voting against their best interests because Conservative politicians keep telling them that Democrats and people of color are ruining the country.
But this isn’t a Southern problem, or an American one. The world has long been a cesspool of stupidity and butchery involving tribalism against a group with the same needs and desires, but some minuscule difference that justifies them as Them.
The Crusades, the Irish Troubles, ethnic cleansing in Africa and Eastern Europe, and the Holocaust; all involved similar people killing each other for no good reason, only misguided fear and hate.
And for any ethnicity, especially Caucasians, to claim superiority, is ridiculous. The Chinese, Mayans, and Aztecs were planting crops and doing math, and the Arabs, along with India and the Mayans, were writing down words while white people were still worshiping trees and eating the hearts of their enemies. If not for Greece and Italy, both much maligned by current modern Caucasians, it’s doubtful the rest of the white European barbarians would have ever become civilized.
Worldwide, people should be holding hands, singing Kumbaya, and working to save our planet and free all humans from tyranny. But we can’t get past stupid shit. Must be residual from our cave man days.
There is a point in the astounding album Neville Brothers: Live On Planet Earth where Cyril Neville, vocalist, percussionist, and spiritual leader of the band, begs the screaming crowd to remember; “There is only one race. The Human Race.”
A simple statement and very true. Too bad no one listens.