Baseball legend Hank Aaron angered a certain breed of American this week when he suggested that racism was still a thing, but that the outfits had changed. The comments led to wave after wave of hate mail, none of which we’ll be publishing here, that essentially proved his point. Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer Jay Bookman tries to speak some sense about the whole thing:
And if you’ll excuse an effort to inject nuance into a topic where it is too rarely seen, it’s that matter of perspective that is key to all this. Even if you don’t agree with everything Aaron says, you ought to at least wonder what the man is seeing that you don’t.
To put it in baseball terms, think of it as a tag play at second. Watching from your seat in the left-field stands, or even at home on TV, the runner was clearly tagged out. Yet the umpire, looking at it from a different perspective, calls him safe. And it isn’t until you see it from a third perspective, that of the center-field camera and replayed over and over again in slow motion, that you realize that the umpire was right and you were wrong.
Or maybe he was wrong and you’re right.
In real life, we don’t have a centerfield camera to decide the question. We don’t have a means to determine which perspective is accurate, and which is skewed. But the point is that you don’t have to agree with Aaron’s point of view, fully or in part, to know that his perspective is at least worth hearing and considering. He has seen things in ways that others have not.
Another worthy take on the issue—this one by the WaPo’s Jonathan Capehart—can be found over this way.