Things We See and Hear by Marvin Thompson, Jr.

As I am watching the movie 42 (2013, written and directed by Brian Helgeland), I’m reminded of an appalling era in history that preceded my years here. 42 depicts the career of Hall of Fame baseball player Jackie Robinson and the adversity he overcame as the first African-American to break Major League Baseballs color barrier.

It’s always easier to focus on those who told Mr. Robinson that he didn’t belong in Major League Baseball; those who shouted racial slurs, spat and tried to break him physically. When speaking of matters such as this, it’s easier to say, “They were racists”, or declare, “They are evil people”. This is problematic of absolutes. The harder task is to appreciate Branch Rickey, the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who signed Jackie Robinson. Some question Mr. Rickey’s motives, saying he did it for the money and the chance to win the World Series. Whatever the truth, Mr. Rickey took severe heat from MLB, fans and other players for the signing. He did the right thing when he didn’t have to.

Juxtaposed to the recent allegations of racism against a team owner of the National Basketball Association, it’s become more convenient and quite honestly, less involving of research to simply put all of society’s eggs in one proverbial basket. Terms like they always, we never, everyone of them, and many more place a blanket on ideals and circumstances that are often undeserving.

Consider this:

  • Some white Americans were essential in the abolishment of slavery.
  • Armin T. Wegner and Heinrich Grueber, both Germans, were sent to concentration camps for assisting the Jews during the Holocaust.
  • Housewife and Civil Rights activist Viola Liuzzo was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan during the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. She was white.
  • 9 year-old Joshua Smith, an African-American, raised $1,200 by selling lemonade. He read about the financial troubles of his city and wanted to help.

Let’s remember good and bad can be found in everything, and only love is absolute; believe that. It’s sometimes complicated, but in the words of Mr. Rickey, “The world isn’t so simple anymore. I guess it never was”.


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