On November 11th, 2018, U.S Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican from Mississippi, made an off-hand comment about lynching, a once popular method of public hangings of people of color in the U.S. While Hyde-Smith was publicly addressing a group of her supporters, she referred to one of the followers and said “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” The dangerous racial under-tones of an off-hand comment such as this is magnified considering that Hyde-Smith was running against Mike Espy, a black man, and by the fact that Mississippi was historically one of the lynching capitals of the U.S.
A few days after Hyde-Smith made this comment, the MLB decided to make a $5000 donation to support her campaign. When news of this hit it was followed by a public out-cry that forced the MLB to ask for the donation back. However, the fact that it happened in the first place shines light on an over-arching issue: The stacking of white people in positions of power in the MLB.
In the MLB, every non-corporate majority team owner with the exception of one is a white man. This extends to the commissioner of the MLB that is currently, and has always, been occupied by a white man. The stacking of white men in positions of power, and minorities in lower positions is unfortunately quite common on the playing field in commercial sports in North America. Similar circumstances in the administrative office can lead to events such as the Hyde-Smith donation, which carries racial under-tones, and other systemic issues across sport, when only white males exclusively get to make the decisions about what their respective leagues do and sport is.
Featured image: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred