Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Baseball, Basketball, and Blunt Wraps...A Lesson In Racial Equality

“The Pied Piper enjoyed people enjoying themselves. He was colorblind and race-blind and religion-blind.”

--Hank Greenberg

Hammerin’ Hank the former slugger who played in the 1930’s and 40’s primarily for the Detroit Tigers, was right. In addition to being right, Hank was also Jewish.

And during his career in Major League Baseball, in addition to all of the records he set and the accolades he received, he was the object of slurs from bigoted crowds and opposing players.

When Greenberg played in the minors in Texas he was approached by a new teammate named Jo-Jo White who hailed from Georgia.

When White first saw the monstrous Greenberg, he walked around him and looked him up and down, and finally said, “I’ve never seen a Jew before.”

Greenberg responded, “See anything interesting?”

To which White, who literally thought Jews had horns, said…“You’re just like everyone else.”

The two of them went on to become roommates for five years while playing in the Detroit Tigers organization.

I like hearing about moments like that.

I believe accepting others as they are is incredibly easy if people take the time to just interact with others no matter what one’s pre-conceived ideas about a certain group may be.

A couple of examples of this happened recently in my life…once in my son’s life and Monday night in mine.

My son Ryno, has always been “color-blind”. In fact, Central State University, a predominantly black college in Ohio is still on his short list, but…

Something amusing happened the other day that once again reiterated his refusal to see color in a negative light.

His 9th grade Science class went to King’s Island Amusement park last Friday to complete their unit on designing rollercoasters.

The trip included a lunch. The kids had their choice of several things. Fried Chicken and watermelon was on the menu.

One of his best friends and basketball teammates, who happens to be black, was ahead of him in the line.

His friend ordered fried chicken and watermelon, and Ryno snickered. His friend replied through a chuckle:

“Don’t even say anything, Mahoney.”

Ryno said, “Hee Hee…I won’t.” The lady running the line then asked Ryno what he wanted and Ryno responded, “I’ll have what he’s having.”

Ha!! I dig that. I dig those two kids. I dig their attitude. They joke about their racial differences. They use it as a topic for humor and kinship, not hate.

A similar thing happened to me at work Monday evening. A black guy, who appeared to be a little younger than I, drove into the Beer Mine.

He wanted a blunt wrap in which to wrap his marijuana tobacco. He asked me which flavors we had. I told him and showed him these:

He looked, laughed, and then said, “Don’t even say it.”

I said, “What?”

Still laughing he said, “You probably think I want the Watermelon flavor.”

I laughed out loud, and said, “Hell I wasn’t thinking that, but that’s funny.”

He then said, “Give me Blueberr---Oh hell, gimme Watermelon. I’m feelin’ stereotypical tonight.”

We both laughed out loud again, and then shot the shit for a minute or two. It was nice.

Greenberg and White became pied pipers. Ryno and his buddy are as well, and that guy I met last night?

For a moment or two so were we…

We didn’t see color in a negative way. We made fun of it in a positive way, and when people do that, the color fades and all that one experiences is the happiness of the pied piper.



Charlene said...

Every day I learn something new. I had no clue you could buy something to wrap your weed in at a retail location.

Matt-Man said...

Charlene: Well sure ya can, but we make fun of those people for not just sucking it up and rolling a normal joint. Cheers Charlene!!

David said...

>>The two of them went on to become roommates for five years

I'm really trying not to read anything into that...uhmmmm.

I once worked for an organization that sponsored a watermelon eating contest as a supposed team building exercise. They seemed surprised when I objected to holding an event that none of my black co-workers would even dream of participating in....when I objected to the event out of my sensibilites, I was fired for fostering racial discord. Isn't that ironic?

Matt-Man said...

David: You are perplexing me. When travelling on a team, one rooms with another and the watermelon eating contest?

They are held throughout the summer 'round here. Plenty of people like watermelon be they white or black. What's the big deal? Cheers David!!

Jay said...

Back in the day at my old job things were pretty slow so I was having to find busy work for some people. We had a bunch of spray paint so I had a couple of guys repaint some of the work tables to spruce the place up a bit. One of the guys was Mexican and he picked up the can of spray paint and said "I only know how to spray gang signs and my initials."

He was always cracking jokes like that. And when I would laugh he would point and yell "Racist!" haha We had fun.

Matt-Man said...

Jay: Ha...The more people make fun of steroetypes the more they fade into the past. Cheers Jay!!

Mike said...

I love fried chicken and watermelon. I'm white on the outside and black on the inside. A reverse oreo cookie.

Now I'm hungry.

Keith said...

I like that story. I had a black dude literally save me from losing my legs during training 25 years ago. We both really hated each before that and he could have let me lay where he found me but decided to help anyway. The doctors told me that I needed to thank whoever it was that got me into the warm as fast as they did. Afterward, I had his back on everything. We became real good friends. That was my 'awakening'.

Matt-Man said...

Mike: I love fried chicken myself, but watermelon? Not so much...While I like the flavor of watermelon, I hate eating the actual fruit. And me on the on the inside...I'm chartreuse. Cheers Mike!!

Matt-Man said...

Keith: That's cool. I grew up for my first eight years in a neighborhood that was pretty racially equivalent. None of us black and white troublemakers ever thought about anything other than playing baseball with each other. Cheers Keith!!

Scott Oglesby said...

I love stories like that and the ones you just told as well. I grew up in a mixed neighborhood as well. And I think it makes for a happier, fuller life. In hating anybody or anything you are just closing yourself off to the beauty, joy and peace of this world.

We really do see what we want to see in life.

Matt-Man said...

Scott: You are absoulutely correct young man. And if it helps anyone, they should know what I have said my entire life.

There are only TWO groups of people in this world. Those who are assholes and those who are not. Nothing else about them matters. Cheers Scott!!

Dana said...

We can focus on the difference, or we can find alliances in the similarities. I prefer the latter :)

Matt-Man said...

Dana: True, and humor and specifically the ability to laugh at ourselves is an incredibly powerful and transforming similarity. At least I have often found that to be true. Cheers Dana!!

Dianne said...

Here's to all the Pied Pipers out there!

Matt-Man said...

Dianne: And long may he play his flute...In his honor, I play with my flute as often as I can. Cheers Sexy!!

Marilyn said...

Way better than treating race like the invisible elephant in the room... not easy for everybody though.

Warrior_Kat said...

Are the purple haze blunt wraps grape flavored? Try saying grape flavored blunt wraps several times fast. Can't be done.


Mandy said...

Awesome blog, Matt!

I love it. And you know from a prior conversation exactly how I feel about topics like this.

Preach it my dear, preach it!

Cheers, my fellow world dominator and aquarian!

Matt-Man said...

Marilyn: It's not easy but it's harder in the long run to ignore it. Cheers Marilyn!!

Warrior: I dunno...I don't somke pot. It just seems as though I do at times. Cheers Kat!!

Mandy: I understand what you mean perfectly. This is one area I will always preach until I am six foot under. Thanks and Cheers!!

Desert Rat said...

What a great post! I, too, grew up in an integrated neighborhood in a color-blind family. (My first crush was on a Japanese boy, named Mark Izuma - he was SO cute! The Sean Lee, then Danny Ayala... sigh...) I didn't realize it until I moved away and ended up in a grocery store where everyone was white - it was kind of spooky.

I like watermelon, 'cause I can pinch the seeds and pop them at people when I eat it. They're also pretty good when they're filled with Vodka (jus sayin').

Matt-Man said...

Rat: I'm not a fan of watermelon itself, but we always did the vodka filled melon as well when camping. It's a beautiful thing. Cheers Rat!!