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Karen Russell Headshot

Playing While Brown

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Happy that the Major League Baseball Player's Association condemned Arizona's misguided, mean-spirited new immigration law. Racial profiling is important to baseball, where 27% of the players are Latino. I urge the NFL, NHL and NBA unions and all the Major Leagues to join them.

It's obvious that Arizona didn't learn its lesson in 1993. After Arizona said no to honoring the Federal Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The NFL pulled the Super Bowl. It's time to boycott Arizona again and pull the MLB All-Star game from Phoenix next year. Some estimate pulling the game will cost the state $40 million. Let Arizona feel the full financial brunt of its bigoted decisions once again.

Many Americans view the civil right's movement narrowly. As a movement that just liberated African-Americans. The truth is the civil right's movement helped open up sports for all Americans - players and fans. The powerful intersection between Civil Rights, Activism and Sports as worked to greatly enrich this country.

As Pioneers like Jackie Robinson and my dad NBA legend Bill Russell de-segregated the major leagues, it was obvious that for the leagues to expand nationally, traveling players needed to be able eat and sleep on the road.

They were "welcome" to play but not stay. I use the world "welcome" loosely as they were subjected to a constant barrage of racial name-calling. Stars on the court, not full citizens off - unfortunately called things like ape, boy and the n-word both places. Fans frequently threw stuff like bottles, heated coins and lit cigarettes.

Nevertheless, for the best competition, keeping players of color off the field just made no sense. How could you legitimately be the World Champs if some of the best players weren't allowed to play? True competitors always want to play against the best talent. Growing up, Dad frequently talked about how competing against the best always raised his game.

Politically vulnerably minorities have always borne the brunt of racial profiling. This "show me your papers" remind me of South Africa's Apartheid "pass laws" where non-whites were forced to always carry and show their ID cards at any time or any reason. Supporters of these laws focus on the familiar "why worry if you have nothing to hide" vs. "it's wrong to arbitrarily strip US citizens of rights without due process".

Players of color help pour millions into the Arizona community. Now these players fear losing their due process for just doing their jobs and "playing while brown".

Players don't want to go back to an era where they were welcome to play but not welcome to stay. After they play, players want to be able to drive, eat, shop and sleep without being forced to "show their papers." They don't want their wives, children and family members hassled and deprived of their due process either.

Why don't the liberty-loving tea party folks care about US Citizens and legal migrants losing their constitutional rights with due process? Where are so-called compassionate conservatives like President Bush on this issue? And don't get me started on former Maverick Senator John McCain.

We all must work to end Juan Crow now. Let Commissioner Selig know how you feel. Ask him to Boycott Arizona and pull the All-Star Game:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
Phone: (212) 931-7800

Email: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/help/contact_us.jsp

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