Since the murder of George Floyd there have been protests all over the world and more people are speaking up about racism, police brutality and social injustices; including athletes. NBA, WNBA and NFL players have addressed these issues for years, but MLB has been absent from the discussion. So, on September 23, 2017, when Bruce Maxwell a catcher for the Oakland A’s decided to kneel during the national anthem the baseball world was shocked. Historically, black baseball players have not spoken out on issues of race and police brutality. A big reason is that there are so few of them in the league that they fear for their jobs if they were to “rock the boat”.
Maxwell had enough of seeing his people being killed by police and felt he needed to do something. After he kneeled, he received death threats and his teammates joked that they feared being next to him. He didn’t find the jokes funny; what he found was that he was all alone in this fight. A few people reached out to him privately, but he thought no one had his back. He didn’t even feel his own black teammate supported him. He was no longer in the league and refused a recent offer from the A’s; he has moved to Mexico and is happy playing ball there.
So why now? Why are players speaking up now? Some of these same players were in the league at the time he was protesting, and they were established stars in the league. Former Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said kneeling wasn’t his protest and he didn’t reach out because he didn’t know Maxwell. Still Maxwell asks where were you when I and our people needed you? Some players have apologized and say they understand his feelings. Today, players feel more comfortable using their voices and are willing to take a stand, they also have the support of MLB executives something Maxwell didn’t have in 2017. It is great that black baseball players are taking a stand and have had enough, but you do wonder Where Were You?
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