I remember growing up in suburban Chicago, as a kid we read short stories by Flannery O’Connor, we were exposed to writings from James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I distinctly recall seeing newsclips of southern protests being broken up with fierce dogs and water cannons. I vividly remember my father making a wrong turn and driving into the Hough section of Cleveland after Dr. King’s death and I can still smell the pall of smoke as I did on that cool April night in 1968. My recollections include transferring to New Orleans in 1974 and seeing police wearing riot gear in the halls of my new high school, after a standout black running back was refused an honorable mention despite scoring 24 touchdowns. These images are vividly etched in my memory and are not to be taken for granted.
In today’s Chicago Sun-Times Jay Mariotti questions Dusty’s use of the “race card;” at first I was a bit reticent as I began to read the article but, the more I read the more Mariotti seemed to make sense. The continued references to racist letters paint a picture of the city of Chicago as being somewhat intolerant – while Chicago as a whole is not as diverse as a city such as New Orleans or even Nashville I would certainly not refer to it as a “white city.”
So I have to agree with Jay and question Dusty’s continued use of the race card. What is he trying to accomplish? Will Dusty use racism as an excuse for being fired if Hendry doesn’t bring him back? Will Baker use racist attitudes for his decision not to come back if he’s offered a contract that’s not to his liking?
I cannot and will not condone the unacceptable bigoted behavior of a few crank fans, nor will I say that they dishonor Cubs Nation, because they do not speak for Cubs Nation. But I will suggest that it’s time for Dusty to start turning the other cheek and begin to file the offending letters in the circular file. Given his performance as a Cubs manager it’s fair to say that Dusty would be receiving hateful mail regardless of his skin color. It’s time to move on, in more ways than one.