"Whitefolks are-a marketing you to-day/Hey hey hey/Hey hey hey..."
(sorry for the Simon & Garfunkle parody all you young folks, but Young Jeezy and Ciara don't have baseball songs to bite on...)
This man was subject to murder threats, he was spit on by white ball players (who often slid into second, metal cleats high), and yet told not to fight back. Hard for a dude with a hair-trigger temper like Jackie's not to fight back, to bear it all with "dignity." They love it when we bear things with dignity or have to "understand the way things work," don't they? Well, the not-so-distant ancestors of same clowns who infest Fox News and talk radio/blogs attacked him daily. "Middle America" despised the man; had he manifested 10% of the vices and anti-social behavior of some of Major League Baseball's (MLB) iconic white players, Jackie would have been expelled from the game. And of course the Senator Joseph McCarthy's minions tried to shellack him as a communist, to which Jackie responded with the classic, "If the comunists are using treatment of Negro to their advantage, then who can blame them? Think about this: Jim Crow has been around longer than communism, and might be around long after communism's gone unless somebody does something!"
These are the same folks, corporations, manipulators of MLB who, this week in 2007, this week of Imus and Duke Lacrosse imbroglios, are turning this 60th anniversity of his joining the Brooklyn Dodgers as a feel-good marketing event.
I'll be even more blunt about MLB history, and feel free to call me a loon. If Negro League players had been in the majors from, say, 1919-on, no one would have heard of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle. Ty Cobb would've prospered, though, using his hatred of blacks as fuel. Would have been fun to see him sliding spikes-first toward Josh Gibson, and Josh knocking some of Ty's teeth out with his elbow at the baseline. Ty would've cursed, called him an infernal nigger, and come right back at him the next at-bat. Now that's some baseball! But alas, it didn't happen. You never would've known this history judging from the feel-good Disneyfication going on. We have to stop kidding ourselves when we try to bemoan an "obsession" with race. Race--like lawyers--was a defining element in the founding and development of this nation. Period. No debate. So can't we just be honest about what happened 60 years ago?
Note many black folks still use a phrase coined back in '47 whenever we face obtuse comments about affirmative action. It's called "the Jackie Robinson thing." You have to be three times better than them to be considered half as good. Think about it...