Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thoughts from the editor...

As I lick the still fresh wounds of election 2016, my thoughts turn to the great Jackie Robinson.
In the 1940s, there were dozens of outstanding African American players in the Negro Leagues that had more talent, skill, and ability than most of the players in the Whites-only Major Leagues. In the parlance of politics and business, they were far “More qualified for the job.”
Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers wanted to tap into that talent, but he knew that the very first player to break the color barrier would have to be a very special person indeed. He needed more than a superstar athlete; he needed a man completely above reproach, without even the hint of scandal. He needed a man of impeccable character and strength, who would be able to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous racism. He needed a man who would be able to endure unspeakable hatred without being allowed to even respond, yet never let that pain deter him from his goal. There were some phenomenal players in the Negro Leagues, but there was only one Jackie Robinson.
It’s insane that it took until 1947 before baseball became integrated. (Keep in mind, this was 11 years after Jesse Owens incredible performance at the 1936 Olympics) History waited until the right person came along. The evolution of history isn’t always as quick as we’d like it to be, but usually, in time, history gets it right.
Nobody said this stuff was fair…
I bring all this up, because maybe Hillary wasn’t “the one?”
Her “Qualifications” are impeccable. First Lady of a state and then the nation, a US Senator, Secretary of State… if she were a man she’d probably be finishing up her second White House term right now rather than giving yet another concession speech. Unfortunately for her, she happens to also be a woman, and as such would need more than mere qualification for the job. We’ve had 44 male presidents, some good, some great, some not-so-good. We can make allowances for “men.”
Our first woman president has to be more than just qualified. She has to be damned near perfect.
Nobody said this stuff was fair…
So why Jackie Robinson? By 1945, Josh Gibson had already hit an insane number of home runs. His Hall of Fame plaque claims nearly 800 home runs in his career, making him the greatest power hitter in the history of professional baseball. He was certainly the best player in the Negro Leagues at the time, and would have instantly been the best player on almost any MLB team he joined, yet he wasn’t the “one.” The Dodgers signed Jackie instead, and Josh died before Jackie could make his Major-League debut. Jackie Robinson went on to make history while Josh Gibson was buried in an unmarked grave.
Nobody said this stuff was fair…
Relax, Hillary will fare much better than Josh Gibson. She will continue to be respected by millions the world over, and she’ll probably go on to help many more people through her often unfairly maligned foundation. She has a family that loves her and nothing is better than grandchildren.
Meanwhile, our first woman president is somewhere getting motivated right now. She may be Elizabeth Warren, or perhaps rising star Kamala Harris? Right now she may be a doctor or an educator or a student, or even a business executive… she may not even know it yet, but she’s “The one.”
I don’t envy her. Like Jackie, she’ll have to endure the pain of much ignorance and cruelty, and she’ll have to do it with unruffled grace and dignity. Everything about her will be questioned, scrutinized, and picked over to a degree than no male candidate has ever had to endure, but she’ll be up to the task.
Josh Gibson was only 35 when he died. Many say it was the fact that he wasn’t the one selected to break the color barrier that broke his heart. That’s an American tragedy. We can only hope that Hilary will hold her head high and appreciate all her incredible accomplishments. There are billions of people on Earth… there’s only a single: “The one.”
I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait too much longer to find her.

1 comment:

Carole Leigh Engblom said...

Beautifully stated, Peter. Better than any opinion piece I've read in the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. I'm going to share your thoughtful insights with my still-reeling friends.