White People Could Learn a Thing or Two About Talking About Race From the Orioles’ Manager


On Wednesday, after the Baltimore Orioles trounced the Chicago White Sox in front of over 48,000 empty seats at Camden Yards, Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter offered a blunt assessment of the ongoing protests happening just beyond the stadium gates.

When a Baltimore resident asked what advice Showalter would give to young black residents in the community, the manager explains [emphasis added]:

You hear people try to weigh in on things that they really don’t know anything about. … I’ve never been black, OK? So I don’t know, I can’t put myself there. I’ve never faced the challenges that they face, so I understand the emotion, but I can’t. … It’s a pet peeve of mine when somebody says, ‘Well, I know what they’re feeling. Why don’t they do this? Why doesn’t somebody do that?’ You have never been black, OK, so just slow down a little bit.

I try not to get involved in something that I don’t know about, but I do know that it’s something that’s very passionate, something that I am, with my upbringing, that it bothers me, and it bothers everybody else. We’ve made quite a statement as a city, some good and some bad. Now, let’s get on with taking the statements we’ve made and create a positive. We talk to players, and I want to be a rallying force for our city. It doesn’t mean necessarily playing good baseball. It just means [doing] everything we can do. There are some things I don’t want to be normal [in Baltimore again]. You know what I mean? I don’t. I want us to learn from some stuff that’s gone on on both sides of it. I could talk about it for hours, but that’s how I feel about it.

Fans watched from outside the stadium gates after demonstrations in response to the death of Freddie Gray forced the team to play the first game behind closed doors in Major League Baseball history. At Wednesday’s press conference, outfielder Adam Jones, who related to the struggles of Baltimore’s youth as a kid growing up in San Diego, called on the city to heal after the unrest.

Jones goes on to say:

The last 72 hours have been tumultuous to say the least. We’ve seen good, we’ve seen bad, we’ve seen ugly…It’s a city that’s hurting, a city that needs its heads of the city to stand up, step up and help the ones that are hurting. It’s not an easy time right now for anybody. It doesn’t matter what race you are. It’s a tough time for the city of Baltimore. My prayers have been out for all the families, all the kids out there.

They’re hurting. The big message is: Stay strong, Baltimore. Stay safe. Continue to be the great city that I’ve come to know and love over the eight years I’ve been here. Continue to be who you are. I know there’s been a lot of damage in the city. There’s also been a lot of good protesting, there’s been a lot of people standing up for the rights that they have in the Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, and I’m just trying to make sure everybody’s on the same page.

[…]

It’s not easy. This whole process is not easy. We need this game to be played, but we need this city to be healed first. That’s important to me, that the city is healed. Because this is an ongoing issue. I just hope that the community of Baltimore stays strong, the children of Baltimore stay strong and gets some guidance and heed the message of the city leaders.

Like team exec John Angelos, Showalter, Jones and the rest of the Orioles organization get it.