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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

May 30, 2005

Written by C.N.

Racial Slur at Amerasian Baseball Player

Danny Graves is an Amerasian (mother is Vietnamese, father is White) reilef pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds and has been one of their best players for the past eight years. However, last week, he was abruptly released (fired) by the Reds. Their explanation was of his recent slump and ineffective performances. However, most observers argue that it was because he cursed and flipped off a fan who was heckling him after a recent performance.

To make matters worse, the San Jose Mercury News reports that the fan’s heckling also contained a racial epitath: “”Go back to Vietnam, you slant-eyed (vile epithet)!” As noted in the article, Danny’s teammates were generally shocked to hear that their teammate’s employment with the club was terminated so abruptly: “As first baseman Sean Casey put it: ‘Put him on the (disabled list). Pitch him in mopup to let him try to get it right. Don’t throw him out like garbage.'” Another article at CNNSI.com notes,

Stunned teammates sat in folding chairs in the clubhouse after learning of the move, which leaves the team without a proven closer. Several players said Graves should have been given a chance to work out his problems. “This is not his fault,” first baseman Sean Casey said. “We stink. For us to be 15-28 has nothing to do with Danny Graves. That’s the frustrating part for me.

“I know I’m a little emotional right now, but I think the Cincinnati Reds as an organization owe a lot more to Danny Graves for the eight years he stepped up every year. They owe him more than to just release him like this. I just disagree with it.”

Outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. said he’s never seen anything quite like the move. “It’s tough,” Griffey said. “He’s not a troublemaker. He’s not a guy that complained. He wants the ball. It’s just upsetting. It’s a tough way to lose a guy that’s been here and dedicated himself to the organization.”

As one of the few Asian American (as opposed to Asian) professional baseball players in the sport, it is indeed sad to see his career take such an unpleasant turn. But considering that he played for the Cincinnati Reds, it’s probably not that huge of a shock that he would be treated is such an insensitive, callous, and indeed hostile way.

For those who don’t know, the Cincinnati Reds organization was onced owned and controlled by Marge Schott, whose racial insensitivites were legendary. For example, she routinely called her Black ballplayers her “high-priced niggers” and once said that Adolf Hitler was misunderstood — that he had “good ideas but went too far.” After a few of these embarassing incidents became public, Major League Baseball officials suspended her and ultimately forced her to sell her interest in the team.

But that’s not all — many community activists and scholars know Cincinnati to have one of the worst race relations problems in the entire country. It’s a city in which several young Black men have been shot by White police officers in recent years. It was also where Vincent Chin’s murderers were acquitted by an all-White jury of violating Vincent’s civil rights when they bludgeoned him to death with a baseball bat.

In short and in retrospect, I suppose it was only a matter of time until the city of Cincinnati and its residents showed their true racist colors. I hope Danny Graves signs with a better team that has a few less racist redneck fans.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Racial Slur at Amerasian Baseball Player" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/05/racial-slur-at-amerasian-baseball-player/> ().

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