MLB condemns racism, but doesn't go far enough in first statement about George Floyd's death

·3-min read

Major League Baseball finally released a statement on Wednesday in response to the death of George Floyd in police custody, and the worldwide protests his death has sparked over the past week.

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“We offer our condolences to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and all the families that have lost loved ones due to senseless killing and injustice.

“To be clear, our game has zero tolerance for racism and racial injustice.

“The reality that the Black community lives in fear or anxiety over racial discrimination, prejudice or violence is unacceptable.

“Addressing this issue requires action both within our sport and society. MLB is committed to engaging our communities to invoke change. We will take the necessary time, effort and collaboration to address symptoms of systemic racism, prejudice and injustice, but will be equally as focused on the root of the problem.”

MLB’s statement comes several days after numerous other sports leagues and their teams issued responses, and MLB’s silence didn’t go unnoticed. New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman wasted no time in shading MLB for waiting so long to deliver an official statement on Floyd’s death and the protests and outrage that have followed.

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Stroman’s tweet included something that MLB’s statement didn’t: the words Black Lives Matter. MLB’s statement is actually missing a number of important elements, such as a condemnation of police violence, or any mention of the role the police play in the systemic oppression of people of color and black people especially. In fact, the statement doesn’t mention the police at all. Floyd died in police custody after an officer forced his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he repeatedly said “I can’t breathe” in front of numerous people.

MLB’s statement is also short on meaningful action of any kind. MLB says “addressing this issue requires action,” but fails to say what action they’ll take beyond “engaging our communities to invoke change.” You’d think that after waiting several days to release a statement they would have come up with something, but there’s no mention of steps they’ll take to address racism amongst players, front offices, or in fan bases.

That’s not surprising given how little MLB has done to eliminate the inherent racism of some of its own teams and their practices. MLB has not publicly asked the Cleveland Indians to change their team name, and the team still hasn’t fully stopped using an offensive caricature of an indigenous person as a logo. MLB also hasn’t publicly asked the Atlanta Braves to stop playing the “tomahawk chop” chant, a racist co-opting of indigenous culture, during games.

Given their past, it’s hard to take MLB seriously when they pledge to take action on racism. Wednesday’s statement certainly didn’t change that.

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