Let me explain that a bit. According to racial statistics, there are less black players in professional baseball today than there were 30 years ago. Now that might seem like a fallacy considering the overall number of "brown" faces in the league today, but many of those men are considered to be Hispanic or Latino. Not black.
I called bullshit. And I am the whitest white dude ever to walk the face of the Earth, so that means that I am most likely wrong and possibly even a bit racist. At the very least I will probably sound a bit stupid, but here goes anyway.
My argument to Gia was that while I agree that there seems to be less black players in the game than there used to be, there are still plenty of black players in the game today. On the Yankees, look at Robinson Cano or Melky Cabrera or Mariano Rivera. I believe that racially, all of these men could be considered to be black. Not making any judgements on them, just stating my opinion on their race.
She countered that by saying that both Cano and Cabrera are from the Dominican Republic and Rivera is from Panama. They all speak Spanish as well, so that makes them Hispanic, not black. I don't really get that. Since when does where you are from (in the Western Hemisphere at least) and what language you speak help define your race?
I guess the question of race is an ambiguous one today anyway. How does one define race? Is it an anthropological distinction or a cultural distinction? I dunno, but the real crux of the argument over the lack of black players in the major leagues was the lack of African-American players in the major leagues. Aha! Now we are getting somewhere. That goes toward a more societal question of why young Black men in this country have stopped playing baseball. And I don't have a real good answer for that.
I gave Gia three men who have all played baseball either currently or in the past. Alex Rodriguez, Fernando Valenzuela and David Ortiz. Then I asked her what race she would categorize each of them as. She chose Hispanic for all three men and I went nuts again. Sure, culturally they are all Hispanic. A-Rod and Ortiz are both Dominican and Fernando is Mexican. But the common tie of language is all that they share. What would be more accurate is to say that all three men are of mixed race. A-Rod clearly has some European features while Ortiz could be classified as being black or African-Dominican. And Fernando shares a lot of traits with the indigenous people of the Americas.
I just don't get how a person of African descent who lives in the Dominican Republic is Hispanic, but someone also of African descent who lives in the USA is black. And yet that is how some studies classify those groups.
She also couldn't believe that I was saying that I could determine someone's race just by looking at them. I countered with the argument that the only way to determine someone's race is by looking at them. Physical characteristics define race, on an anthropological level. But she is looking at race on a more cultural level. So who is right and who is wrong here? I dunno.
So we continued arguing about whether or not being Hispanic was a racial sub-division and we both became too tired to really give a shit about it eventually. Honestly, there is nothing I find more uncomfortable than a form that asks you about your race. White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Other. We spend so much time defining one another, categorizing ourselves that it might contribute to actually keeping us apart. Who really gives a crap, anyway? And yet there I was arguing about it with the woman I love. And here I am writing about it the next day.
What does it all mean and when is it all gonna go away? People have pride in their backgrounds and where their family comes from. I have a tattoo of my family's traditional crest from Ireland on my leg. And yet in other ways I don't care about that shit at all.
One of these days down the line, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of years from now, we are all going to belong to the same race. The Human Race. If we don't fuck it all up first, that is.
Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. OK...I guess you can't tell what race Michael Jackson belongs to just by looking at him. I'll give you that.