First and most importantly, this is not some official statement about “The Yawkey Way,” last week’s DigBoston feature by Britni de la Cretaz about racism in Red Sox Nation. Britni’s piece, which has bigots up and down New England simultaneously revealing their ugliest innards and cementing the article’s thesis, speaks for itself—as do the reactions from so many adult children. But while that reporting certainly inspired this column, I will leave it to Britni and other reporters who cover culture and sports to write follow-ups on the Fenway front, whether they appear in these pages, on social media, or in a different venue of their choice, if any.
I will comment on racism, though. And on the courage it takes to stand up to the mobs still among us who reject multiculturalism and denigrate those who don’t look and act like them.
One of the most common gripes about “The Yawkey Way” on social media has been that Britni hit on a common topic and added nothing new to a discussion that is already allegedly happening about race and baseball. Such observations fail to recognize the journalistic enterprise of painting bigger pictures and couldn’t possibly explain why the war waged against Britni stands out even among the innumerable character assassination attempts in sports media land. Besides the fact that Britni is a woman, which has electrified the hate tide and resulted in the sickest sexist comments and threats imaginable, it’s important to acknowledge that the article is being targeted because such articles are rare. And because while people may acknowledge bigotry to some degree in these purportedly liberal parts, the kind of conversation that Britni’s article begs for is largely not happening. At least not in the places it should be.
But now the topic of toxic sports radio culture is front and center, at least this month. You can tell because the less-sophisticated side of Boston Twitter is having more of a conniption than usual, with miserable snowflake pricks galore reminding all of us that they work hard to frighten those who dare to publicly stand against and call out intolerance. I am sure these words will only tighten the insufferable knot that xenophobes have in their ribs, but every time an activist or journalist like Britni sticks their neck out for equality, countless more then do the same.
If you’re a hate-mongering sports goon whose views tend to jibe with those of white nationalist groups, then don’t be surprised if your wife, friend, cousin, aunt, uncle, or daughter is the next to speak up. Because while the conversation about racism in sports hasn’t yet gone mainstream, it’s getting there. And when it does, you can expect a lot more bold denunciations of the tired and despicable Yawkey way.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.