So a few hours ago I was reading this excellent Hank Aaron ode from Bradford William Davis, columnist for the New York Daily News. And midway through the piece, he alluded to a Tweet from Chipper Jones, longtime Braves third baseman and relatively new (and deserved) inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame …
And, as Davis rightly noted, the Tweet screams something that needs to be addressed.
Actually, it screams many things …
First, you’d have to live in a triple-layer tortoise shell to believe Hank Aaron—recipient of death threats, of hate letters, of endless genres and devices of racism—wasn’t angry. Even more to the point, how is (the illusion of) “never” being angry a compliment in this regard? It actually reminds me of about 50 different scenes in (I know … I know) “The Help,” when maids and butlers and yard workers and the like take all sorts of shit—then smile when White Boss Person strolls along and either says or thinks some variation of, “What a delightful non-angry negro.”
Second, Chipper Jones clearly sees militant as a negative. As in, “Thank God Hank Aaron was never militant.” It’s a super white conservative way of looking at the world—aka “Those BLM protesters are far too militant” and “Colin Kaepernick sure is militant.”
Militancy is viewed as a violent act; as a way of brown-skinned people to destroy things. The people storming the Capitol were exercising their rights. But African-Americans speaking out, marching, picketing? Militancy.
That’s why, in the aftermath of Aaron’s death, I was anxious for media outlets to find ballplayers who were moved by Aaron’s courage; who understood what militancy means; who could look at Aaron’s smile and see the pain behind it.
I’ve got no beef with Chipper Jones.
But he knows not whereof he speaks.