Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has a message for United States’ leaders.
It's time to start listening.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times Tuesday, Roberts expressed his anger and frustration with the country's leadership following the homicide of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.
During the interview, Roberts says that little has changed despite decades of prejudice and racial injustice because voices aren’t being heard.
“It’s disappointing to see my generation and the generation prior failing the younger generation,” Roberts said Tuesday. “And that’s what’s really sad. You always hope for progress, but that just, unfortunately, isn’t the case.”
Roberts, who was hired as the first black manager in Dodgers history following the 2015 season, adds that change starts with leadership. Roberts says that unfortunately, there are not enough leaders willing to listen or engage in meaningful conversation.
“For me, the leaders of our country, unfortunately, aren’t good listeners and that’s how you impose change. People of color want to be heard. And when you have leaders that are put in positions to make change and don’t want to have those uncomfortable conversations, then change isn’t going to happen. There’s a difference between being educated and being ignorant. You have to understand that these situations happen every single day to people of color.”
‘Normal is not even close to good enough’
Roberts says he’s used the last few days to reflect on the struggles his late father, Waymon Roberts, faced growing up in Houston during the 1950s and 60s. Roberts’ father was the only black student at his high school, which made him a constant target of prejudice.
Even as Roberts’ father served in the Marine Corps for 30 years, the battle continued. It created a normal that no man or woman should have to live with or live through. But it’s a normal too many black men and women call their reality. After listening to his father’s stories and sharing his own experiences with his children, Roberts says those same cultural conversations need to take place at every level — from the government to our own dinner tables — so that real change can happen.
“I hope and pray they’re happening in every household,” Roberts said of cultural conversations. “But we’re in a position of authority because of our age — I’m talking about my generation and beyond. And to tell the younger generation, ‘This is how you do it and this is what needs to be done’ — how can we sit back and say this is what needs to be done when you look at the result of what we’re basically responsible for?
“So many times I hear people say, ‘I just want to get back to normalcy and get back to normal.’ Normal is not even close to good enough. And we all need to be better and demand better from ourselves as a country and as individuals.”
It’s a powerful message that reflects generations of anguish from black men and women and other minorities who speak without being heard or acknowledged. Roberts is not asking for much. Real conversation is where it starts. Genuine understanding will then hopefully lead to real action that creates a new — and better — normal.
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