In what seems like a totally counter-intuitive turn of events, Major League Baseball recently fined an African-American player for calling a white rival a "n-----." Hyper-senstive SB Nation staff writer Harry Lyles Jr. is irate about it and, acting more like a spokesman for the NAACP than an objective journalist, says professional sports leagues have no right to claim authority on a black person’s ownership of the N-word.
In last week's American League game between Chicago and Kansas City, the White Sox African-American shortstop Tim Anderson homered and threw his bat in an insulting, in-your-face way to white Royals' pitcher Brad Keller. During Anderson's next at-bat, Keller intentionally hit him with a pitch. As angry players from both dugouts spilled onto the field, Anderson (seen leaving the dugout after his ejection) called Keller a "weak-ass f---ing n-----." Two days later MLB baseball suspended Keller for five games and Anderson for one game.
Instead of writing an objective story, Lyles went into a race rant against MLB. He writes that Major League Baseball is "a league with a dark history in its treatment of black players, and a glaring lack of current ones — believed for some reason they could be the authority on a black person’s ownership of the N-word."
MLB isn’t the only sports association that disciplines black athletes for using the N-word. The NFL punished Colin Kaepernick and Louis Murphy for saying it in 2014. The NBA came down on Matt Barnes for tweeting the N-word while a 2013 game was in progress and on Andre Iguodala for saying the word in a 2017 press conference.
Lyles concedes the rules on racially charged language are pretty cut-and-dried. However, he rationalizes, "there are hundreds of years of black history to take into account that create levels in how the word can be used today.":
"It’s been turned into a term of endearment when used by black folks; repurposed to create affection where there once was pain. (Though not everybody within the black community agrees with that particular usage.) But for white people, their relationship with the word should be clear: It’s not for them to say, and it’s not for them to dictate how black people use it, even if they feel left out because they can’t say it too."
Lyles pressed the issue further, demonstrating his own racial biases in arguing, "Professional sports leagues shouldn’t be the arbiters on how black athletes use the word. Leagues are made up of mostly white owners, front offices, and coaching staffs, and they aren’t representative of the black players who play the game."
MLB should have given Anderson a pass for his indiscretion and "moved on from the incident entirely," Lyles states. " ... They incorrectly chose to be an authority on a black player’s language."
Lyles demanded Major League Baseball do better. Especially if the sport wants to improve its "longstanding strained relations with black players in the league."