Dr. Hallowell talks about the murder of George Floyd, racism, and his own white privilege. Read the article that Ned refers to in this episode: A conversation: Retired African American MLB players on race, baseball, America
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A transcript of this episode can be found below.
Dr. Ned Hallowell:
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This is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction. In today’s mini episode, I want to talk about racism for the obvious reason, that George Floyd was recently attacked and murdered in a flagrantly racist action. I’m now 70-years-old. I’m a privileged white man, certainly a part of the problem, even though I like to think I’m not part of the problem but rather part of the solution, demographically, I certainly am and without doubt I have in unconscious ways continued the problem.
What can we do about it? What can we do about it? Well, I had one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve ever had in reading an interview on The Athletic, which is a sports site conducted by Doug Glanville and Ken Rosenthal with six Major League Baseball players, now retired, who were African American. And reading their account of what it’s like to be a black person in this country, a black or a brown person in the United States was chilling. These were all players that I’d heard of since I’m a baseball fan. These were all all-stars, highly accomplished, highly paid athletes who had retired and were continuing to do well.
But what they described was just terrible to hear. One of them quoted a slogan, Caucasians want our rhythm, but they don’t want our blues. People liked me, I guess, avoid understanding the reality of these people’s lives. I must avoid it because it was eye opening to read what they had to say. They said who taught black people how to riot and loot? The KKK, the Ku Klux taught us how to riot and loot. White people, only white people who weren’t brave enough to be seen, but had to carry on and ridiculous white garb. And how to come at that and readdress the situation?
They were saying, what’s the right way? The leader of the nonviolent movement, Martin Luther King was assassinated and his contemporary who advocated a more aggressive approach, Malcolm X was also assassinated. And more recently, one person who took a nonviolent approach and simply kneeled on the field, Colin Kaepernick was crucified for it, for taking a nonviolent form of protest. He was run out of football and blackballed by all accounts simply for taking a knee to protest how black people are treated in the United States.
Let me quote what Torii Hunter said. Tory Hunter, who I watched play, one of the most graceful outfielders you’ve ever seen five all-star teams, nine gold gloves. Well, here he is. He now works as a consultant to the Minnesota Twins, the team that he achieved baseball greatness on.
And he said, “When I saw what happened that day, the first day, the next day at 3:00 AM, I just got out of bed and went into my office. I was sitting in my chair at 3:00 AM looking out of the window and I just started to cry. I have three sons. I’ve been talking to them my whole life. Even as a professional baseball player, carry yourself this way. Be careful about that. If the cops pull you over, do this and do that. I shouldn’t have to feel that way. I shouldn’t have to tell my sons every day, when you go outside the house, be smart, be respectful, be quiet.
Don’t say much. I shouldn’t have to tell them that. No white family has to say that. When you talk about white privilege, I had someone tell me my parents had to work and they got everything they got by working. I said that ain’t white privilege. That’s not what we’re talking about. What we’re talking about, you can drive down the street and police get behind you and you ain’t even worried about it. You can tell your kid have a good day. I can’t say that. I say, hey, this happened, this happened, and this happened so they won’t get killed.
They’ve got come home and say, someone called me the N word today at school. What are you supposed to do? What we have to do,” Torii Hunter went on to say, “is come to a peaceful solution, build relationships with one another. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Come to my house. Let me go to your house. Let me get to know you. You get to know us. Let’s have a little dialogue about what we need to do for change. And you know what? It’s all about relationships. If we can get back to that, that’s what’s going to change this.”
Oh my goodness, I thought to myself, Torii Hunter, you are a brave and wonderful man. Thank you. Thank you. Can we all try to understand what it’s like to drive in a car and see a police car in the rear view mirror and tense up, freeze up, wondering what if he pulls me over? What if my blinkers aren’t working? What if he thinks I look funny? All of which happens. And then I better give the right answers or I might end up under the car with someone’s knee on my neck until I can’t breathe anymore. We’re all getting exercised about this, which is good, but these athletes were saying we’ve seen it before.
We’ve seen all of you white people get all upset and go protest and join rallies and then after the fervor dies down, nothing has really changed. We need to make something change. I’m not sure how we’ll do that, but we need to be doing it. We don’t want to take the inspiration of the moment and let it dissipate into ongoing racism entrenched part of the culture not changing. And I do believe Torii Hunter was right. We need to get to know one another, get to know what it’s like, what it’s really like to live with what these folks live with day in and day out.
We need to not black ball Colin Kaepernick. We need to allow the peaceful protest. We need to understand that these people are trying to lay claim to the freedom and justice they are guaranteed in our constitution, but do not find in their daily lives. I’m resolving to do everything I can moving forward in my own life to rectify the situation, to build as many bridges as I can. I hope you will do the same so that we can turn the death of this man, the terrible murder of this man into something redeeming, enlightening, uplifting, and transforming of the original sins our country perpetrated upon an entire race of people.
Please join me in reaching out and building bridges. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell wishing you all peace, good fortune and the ability to repair injustice.
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