A day after 9/11, Baltimore Orioles′ outfielder, Adam Jones, sent waves through the MLB when he called baseball a ″white man′s sport″ while supporting Colin Kaepernick. Jones words were misinterpreted by fans, especially in Baltimore, and he received some hard criticism for his comments.
The Orioles – who are in a very tough race for the playoffs – played their first game at home since Jones′ comments Thursday night against the Rays. I traveled down to Camden Yards, looking to speak with Orioles fans and hear their opinions on Adam Jones, also the racial issues in America.
After speaking with several people from different walks of life, I learned that the American people are ready for change, but don′t know where to start. The individuals that I interviewed – four of which were caucasian – spoke with sincerity and conviction while sharing their opinions. With racial tensions at it′s highest in recent memory, it was refreshing to hear people say they want change and were willing to listen and share with a 26-year old black man.
Jeff, 40, Perry Hall, MD
Do you agree with Adam Jones comments about the sport of baseball?
I can see his point about African-American players are only nine percent of the game, but he is still cashing a white man's check every week, so it′s like biting the hand that feeds you by saying that, so I don′t totally agree with him 100%.
Will you support him? Will you boo him?
Yes I still support him and no I want boo him. This is America, you have freedom of speech in America, if that is what he believes, that fine. He is still standing for the national anthem and I′m good with that. It′s a military respect thing for me, and Adam Jones is not portraying disrespect. He can have his opinion and I can still like him as well. I love Adam Jones.
Do you understand why black athletes are protesting?
Yes, I work in probation and work with a lot of young black men in the Baltimore city, murderers and drug offenders, I totally understand where they′re coming from. There is police profiling going on, but to come together as a country, we can′t be divided. The issues need to be addressed and I don′t want to see anybody be discriminated against but I also respect the military. In terms of Kaepernick, I think he went about it the wrong way. He is a very well-spoken man, and when he was interviewed, he gave his opinions in a proper way and I understood him more. It made me more sympathetic to his cause but to me it′s a more separate respect issue to the military and the flag. Kneeling doesn′t offend much as sitting.
You said you work in probation and I understand that you′re not black, but what are your thoughts on being black in America?
We have a black president. I think it′s a lot of opportunities for a black man in America. I don′t believe there is another country with the same advancement for black men as America. I totally understand the issues of the past – civil rights movement all the way back to slavery – but at some point we need to move forward as a country and that is addressing these issues, finding the best solution we can, and not dividing the country anymore. There is police profiling problem in Baltimore City, I see it. If I get stop by a cop, it may not be the same situation compared to if you got stop by a cop, but when do we move forward? We have to address that issue and find a solution to that issue. There may be a small percentage of cops that go out and look to profile black men but it's not all.
There is a certain percentage in Baltimore City where the violence is coming out of the black community. So if I was a cop and I walked up to you, and you were acting suspicious in a community with a high crime rate, there may be a reason why I′m subbing, but that don′t give me the right to beat on you. I want fair and justice for everybody. I think we have come a long way in this country, with a little bit more ways to go, but lets be positive about it.
Francesca, 61, New York, NY
Do you agree with Adam Jones comments about baseball being a white man′s sport?
Well statistically it is, but I don′t necessarily agree with him. I think it′s really on your talent. Statistics show that it is but I don′t look at it that way.
Will you boo Adam Jones tonight?
No, I won′t boo anybody. I don′t agree with his comments but I don′t judge people at all.
Do you understand why black athletes are protesting this way?
I think it′s the wrong way to protest. It′s not providing any action. I would prefer to use something as an opportunity and using action to present a change. I don′t see any change coming from this.
I understand you′re not black, but what are your thoughts on being black in America.
You know, I grew up in New York, and I have to be completely honest, I never thought of any divide. I don′t have an answer to that.
Charles, 82, Upper Marlboro, MD
Do you agree with Adam Jones statements about baseball being a white man′s sport?
Oh yea, it definitely is a white man sport, but a lot of blacks play it. It′s no baseball diamonds in the inner cities so kids don′t have a place to practice or play the game and that′s mainly why it′s a white man′s game.
Do you still support Adam Jones?
Oh Yea! Sure!
Do you understand why black athletes around the country are protesting the national anthem and do you agree with it?
Yes and they have a right to do that. I didn't get here in time enough for the national anthem, I always take off my hat but I don′t necessarily stand in attention of it. You know, we came a long way but we still got twice as far to go.
As a gentlemen that has live through a lot in this country, how would you describe being black in America?
I′m 82-years old and I have seen segregation and integration, and I deal with what I grown up to be. I can accept changes and I can accept different races. I have lived in all-white neighborhoods, I played ball with them, and I have served with them so I can deal with them.
Tom, 74, Germantown, MD
Do you agree with Adam Jones comments?
I agree that there is not nearly enough athletes of color playing baseball. We should have more black athletes playing baseball. I wish we could figure out a way to make that happen, I′m not sure what the right way is, but we should definitely have more great black athletes playing baseball.
Do you still support Adam Jones?
Oh yea absolutely! He is a great ballplayer and he is very socially conscious, I appreciate all that about him!
Do you understand why black athletes around the country in other leagues are protesting the national anthem?
Yes I do understand that. I think there is a good reason for that and it′s unfortunate that people have to do that kind of thing to get social justice.
I know that you are not black, but what are your thoughts on being black in America?
I think it′s better than it used to be but it′s not what it should be. I have a lot of close friends of all cultures, especially people of color. My church is half black half-white and my bestfriends are black folks. I don′t understand why we can′t make this work better than what it′s working right now. We need to get that fixed.
Andre, 48, Dallas, TX
Do you agree with Adam Jones comments?
I don′t agree with baseball being a white man sport, I think it may be a more cultural thing than race, just in terms of how many African-American play the sport and have access to play. I think it′s probably more of socioeconomic game more than a racial game just because now to be able to play, people spend a lot of money just for their kids to play baseball, and a lot of people can′t afford that. So I look at it as more of economic thing than a race thing, at least in today′s society.
Do you agree with all the black athletes in other leagues that are protesting the national anthem?
I respect the right for them to be able to do that. It is their right to protest and express their consent. The only time I would be disappointed in them protesting is if they weren′t putting any actions behind their protest. If the only action they were doing was to take or knee or not stand and not do anything else to make a change, I would have a problem with it then. So as long as they are backing up their action with action, and not just garnering attention to themselves, then I′m ok with it.
What are your thoughts on being a black man in America?
I know we have issues still but I′m proud of America, I think it′s the greatest country in the world. It′ll never be a perfect utopia – no country is so it doesn′t matter. It′s always going to be a select few that causes problems for people, whether thats racial, socioeconomics, religion, it doesn′t really matter, theres always going to be a few. Even with police officers and those who protest police officers, there will always be a select few of knuckleheads that are against the aspiration of what America stands for, but we can′t let a few determine that the whole is bad.
Trudy, 64, Reistertown, MD
Do you agree with Adam Jones comments about baseball?
I think he is a great humanitarian and he has the right to share his opinion, but backing Kaepernick I don′t really agree with. I think he is a heck of a guy, I don′t know anything about him – other than he is a heck of a ball player, a great teammate, and a great captain – but he has a right to his opinion, just like I do. Yea, I get upset about it, but it′s his opinion, doesn′t mean it′s right.
Do you still support him?
Heck Yea! It′s a big world here, I have a lot of respect for all of them. Maybe he shouldn′t have said anything, but why should he not if he has something to say. He′s not trying to be racist. I have more things against Kaepernick than him.
That′s my next question, what are your thoughts on the athletes, not just Kaepernick, that are taking that approach to protest?
I don′t like it. Although, I did see an all-black little league football team kneeling, and they were praying, that′s cool. With prayer being taking out of schools, it′s why our young people don′t have any respect as they get older. I′m not saying you gotta be christian, you can be jewish, you can be muslim or whatever.
What are your thoughts about being black in America?
To live through the 70s, with what I dealt with and before then with the slaves, we have to let it go somewhere because we′re in revelations right now. I don′t hate anybody. I say hey, there is a black man, a white man, an Italian man, there is an Indian, and I say we′re all jesus′ people. I have two young black men that are honest with me and they tell me what goes on in the troubled areas of Baltimore. But then you got to the suburbs and it′s crime out there, white people are killing each other too. I pray that things will be settled to where we can all get along.