Major League baseball player and All-Star Adrian Gonzalez, said last year that the anti-immigration law in Arizona was cause for boycotting the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix. A year later, however, the first baseman from Tijuana decided “It’s not something I am going to get into.”
Baseball has a long, but often forgotten, relationship with activism since the critique of systemic racism by the successful career of Jackie Robinson. Jesse Jackson has called for a renaissance of this kind of activism, asking the players of the All-Star game and Home Run Derby to talk about the Arizona law during all the festivities. Jackson, along with other groups that support immigrants, was met with a stiff silence. It seems that none of the players has brought attention to the plight of immigrants in Arizona or other states that have recently passed punitive anti-immigration like Alabama and Georgia.
Perhaps Gonzalez gives us the answer for why professional athletes, some of whom had promised to be in the fight against inhumane laws that split families and punish those who put food on citizen’s tables. Gonzalez told USA Today, “What I said was misinterpreted, especially the way the question was asked. At the time, I didn’t know much about the law. I still don’t.” Not knowing what the law dictates, seems to prevent any action on behalf of the immigrants being attacked as a threat. After the excitement wanes and the media coverage dies down, people need to rely on their own knowledge and will to push against injustice.
In the long run, American society cannot afford to put its head in the sand. Eventually the statistics and the numbers will no longer matter, because sooner or later each individual will be impacted. The question we all face, from the All-Stars on the field to everyday fans in the seats, is how bad do we let it get before we care enough to stick up for our neighbors. Jackie Robinson said “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” and I wonder what he would think of Baseball’s lack of impact over last weekend.