Dispute Over Bonds Demonstrates Latest White/Black Division
NNPA, Editorial, George E. Curry Posted: Jun 12, 2007
Editor's Note: A leading Black commentator says racism still divides America, this time over San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record.
BALTIMORE – Polls over whether baseball slugger Barry Bonds should break Hank Aaron’s major league record of 755 home runs expose a racial gulf wider than the Atlantic Ocean.
A poll by ESPN/ABC News found more than twice as many Black fans as Whites are likely to be pulling for Bonds to break the mark (74 percent to 28 percent). More than three-fourths of Whites — 76 percent — think Bonds used steroids, compared to only 37 percent of African Americans.
A sports fan observed on one sports blog: “If there is racism involving Barry Bond’s chase for 758, it cuts both ways. Is it that a majority of White people are coming down on Barry bonds because he is Black? Or is it that a majority of Black people don’t find fault with a fellow Black person?”
Complicating matters on both sides of the divide, there are many reasons to dislike Bonds that have nothing to do with race.
“Away from AT&T Park, Bonds is viewed mostly as a pariah, someone who has tainted the game and made its most sacred statistic meaningless,” wrote Tim Dahlberg, a columnist for the Associated Press. He explained, “People liked Henry Aaron. They still do. Bonds, by contrast, wasn’t a popular player even before his body grew large, his head ballooned to cartoonish size and his home runs started splashing in McCovey Cove. From the beginning of his career, he treated fans and the media with contempt, and they responded with growing contempt for him.”
Speaking of contempt, there was nothing like the contempt shown for Don Imus after he expressed contempt for the predominantly Black Rutgers University basketball team, calling the players “nappy-headed hos.” The radio shock jock was fired by CBS, the distributor of his syndicated radio program, and MSNBC, the cable channel that simulcasts the show.
There was a general consensus that Imus got what he deserved. Or, was there a consensus? A survey by the Pew Center for the People & the Press found that a majority of people — 53 percent of Whites and 61 percent of Blacks — felt that the Imus punishment was appropriate; approximately twice as many Whites as Blacks believe his punishment was too tough (35 percent to 18 percent).
For me, the most shocking racial comparison was the response to Hurricane Katrina. Both Don Imus and Barry Bonds could be written off as creeps. But with Katrina, we were talking about the national disaster. Yet, Blacks and Whites failed to see eye-to-eye on Hurricane Katrina.
According to a CNN/USA Today poll, a majority of African Americans — six in 10 — said the federal government was slow to rescue New Orleans residents because many of them were Black. However, only one in eight Whites shared that view.
The highly-publicized O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1996 was the mother of all racial divides. A CNN/USA Today Poll showed that 62 percent of African Americans agreed with the jury’s decision to acquit Simpson. But only 20 percent of Whites thought the jury was right to acquit the former football star.
A 2001 Gallup Poll put all of the polls in context: “Nearly half of Whites and two-thirds of Blacks think that race relations will always be a problem in this country.”
It will certainly remain a problem if Whites and Blacks continue to look at major issues through their own racial lenses.
But there is some good news buried under all of those polls.
The Gallup survey reported, “When asked whether relations between Blacks and Whites have improved, remained the same, or gotten worse over the past year, similar proportions of Blacks (33 percent) and Whites (29 percent) say that relations have improved.”
The ESPN/ABC Barry Bonds poll provide further cause for optimism. Younger Whites are 15 points more likely than older Whites to recognize Bonds as the home run king and feel that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Now, if they could only get the old heads to catch up.
Do Blacks Kill Whites Because They're White?
Why Imus Won't Go
African American< NAM Coverage
Page 1 of 1