There has been a running dialogue on television, talk radio and the sports corner of the internet recently with one prevailing theme: Boston is a racist town and unless you’re a beloved white athlete prepare to have a nonstop string of racial epithets thrown your direction. There are quite a few people who have made the claim that Boston is racist such as Bomani Jones of ESPN or Michael Che of “Saturday Night Live” who claimed that Boston is the most racist city he’s ever been to. All of this stems from the incident reported all over the country through various media outlets – Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles claiming that he was the victim of racial slurs (as well as peanuts) hurled in his direction. Jones stated after the game that sixty people were ejected from the stadium that night, while the Red Sox maintain that it was 34 people, and only one for using foul language, and whether that language was directed at any player- Jones or otherwise- remains unclear.

Racism in Boston sports
Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones looks up at fans in center field during the third inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Tuesday, May 2, 2017, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

I’m not here to debate the validity of the claim; that’s been done repeatedly. Some who believe that Boston is indeed a racist city have provided their opinion such as CC Sabathia, now of the New York Yankees, claiming to have been the victim of racially motivated taunts and epithets. Others, such as some sports radio hosts and writers claim that the lack of evidence on social media and a shortage of witnesses (one witness who did come forward was proven to be fraudulent) casts doubt on Jones’ claim. Again, I’m not debating this, I’m merely pointing out the facts.
I was at the game on May 3rd, and during this game, a man was ejected and banned for life for casually making racially-driven remarks about the Kenyan woman who sang the National Anthem. I refer to her as a “Kenyan Woman” because in all of the articles I’ve searched about people who are supposedly outraged by the incident, not one has included her name. I find this difficult to rationalize because the writers certainly were able to talk about the man who filed the complaint, his son, and his father-in-law. This was the case in over a half-dozen articles. I find this strange for articles that seem to be about decrying racism, it gives no mention to the person who was the victim of the racial slur. This certainly doesn’t aid the argument that Boston isn’t a racist city. But it does prove one thing- that if there was an incident of a fan using disgusting racially charged hate speech, someone would have spoken out against them. In fact, after an error at first base in which the Red Sox’ Mookie Betts was inadvertently hit with a thrown ball in the knee and was literally rolling around on the ground in pain while being tended to by the Sox’ medical staff, I myself yelled an expletive based on the situation I was witnessing as well as my fears for the ramifications of an injury to one of the best players in the game who finished second in MVP voting last year. A man sitting in front of me turned and confronted me, saying “You can’t swear at the players!”

And what I said had nothing to do with race or ethnicity or was even directed towards a player. But he was concerned with the conduct of his fellow fans in regards to the treatment of the men on the field. I think this is what is driving all of the skepticism of Jones’ claims. No one has said they heard anything, no one reported anyone. But when someone used the term towards the singer of the National Anthem, that person was reported straight away.
Usually, the argument that gets brought up in these types of articles or radio shows is the evidence of how Celtics all-time great and Hall of Famer Bill Russell was treated by the very city that employed him. Yes, it’s true that he was treated poorly on account of his race. But it was also during the 1950s and 1960s. Should Boston still be judged by how people acted nearly seventy years ago? The folks who make these claims seem to believe that the residents of the city today should be judged by the actions of those who, in many cases, are long dead.

I’m 36 years old and have lived in Massachusetts my entire life. I went to school in a racially diverse environment as a child. I’ve seen incidents of racism in isolated pockets here and there. Where I’ve not seen it is at any sporting event. I’ve never heard anyone use a racial slur either in the stands or in line for concessions or in the men’s room after a game where innumerable drunken fans congregate after a game. I’ve been to see the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox many, many times in my life. Not once have I witnessed this. Sure, you hear the random yells of fans expressing their displeasure with the umpires, or with specific players. As a matter of fact (and this is something that happens with all teams) the players who hear the most chants of “You suck!” are in reality the best players, for whom the fans hold a grudging respect. Players like, oh, say, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant, respectively of the Yankees, Colts/Broncos, and Lakers.

Some of the most beloved players in the recent history of these teams are players of color. To say that Boston is a racist city is ludicrous. Ask a sports fan in Boston what they think of former Celtics Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett. Ask a Boston sports fan what they think of the recently retired Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. Or ask them what they think of current Celtic Isaiah Thomas or current Red Sox players Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr.

Are there some people living in the city that have racist thoughts and feelings? Of course! Do some of those people attend sporting events? Of course! Should one or two people represent the entirety of the group to which they belong? Of course not! But when an unfortunate incident like this occurs, everyone who attends these games is lumped together the person or people who incited the incident; everyone who lives in the area is lumped together with the person or people who incited the incident, other athletes come out and say that they’ve been the target of racial taunts. There will be those who believe what happened because of a predetermined notion of what Boston is, and who its inhabitants are, fairly or unfairly. And there will be those who demand proof of the incidents while not dismissing them outright because they understand that there is a segment of the population that does not hold with the ideals that everyone is human and everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

I cannot say one way or the other that these things haven’t happened in recent times exactly the way they’ve been both portrayed and covered in the media. I can only recount my own experiences at events in Boston ranging from museum and aquarium attendance to professional playoff games. I’ve not ever seen or heard anyone acting like this. I can tell you one thing, as a Boston sports fan, I take offense to the fact that I’m being viewed in the same light as someone who would use racial slurs. It frustrates and infuriates me; because no one deserves to be treated that way. I’m glad the Red Sox organization responded the way they did, because even the hint of impropriety by one of their fans is unacceptable. The erred on the side of caution and issued a statement and backed up their stated zero-tolerance policy.

I do think more could have been done though. For instance; releasing the offender’s name if there was a police report filed, or if you really want the lifetime ban to have any significant impact. Some people will argue that this is too steep a punishment and that it could impact that person’s private life. I’m not in that camp. If you’re bold enough to stand up in front of fans at a stadium and become the de facto face of that fanbase to the rest of the nation as a result of your actions, you should have to bear the brunt of those actions as your punishment. If it means you lose friends or your personal life is impacted in a negative way, then so be it. Because you have just given the city of Boston a black eye in front of the rest of the country. RahallAFC EastMLBNew England PatriotsNFLRecent PostsBoston,racism,racism in boston sportsThere has been a running dialogue on television, talk radio and the sports corner of the internet recently with one prevailing theme: Boston is a racist town and unless you’re a beloved white athlete prepare to have a nonstop string of racial epithets thrown your direction. There are quite...