The Astros’ Yuli Gurriel will think again before he pulls his eyes back to make fun of Asian Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish—or any Asian on national television. The first baseman who had just hit a home run off of Darvish’s pitch on Oct. 27 returned to the dugout feeling like a top dog.
Gurriel laughed as he made the gesture. He also used the word “chinito,” or “Chinese boy,” in reference to Darvish, who is of Iranian and Japanese descent.
The latest episode of race and identity in professional sports comes at a time when NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem is in the center of a heated national debate.
Gurriel, a white player, was slapped with a suspension and had to apologize the next day. On Wednesday, the day of World Series Game 7, members of an Asian coalition met in Los Angeles to respond to Gurriel’s gesture and Major League Baseball. They slammed the MLB for taking too long to issue a suspension.
Major League Baseball officials said Gurriel will be suspended without pay for five games at the start of the 2018 season and will have to undergo sensitivity training. He won’t miss any games in the World Series.
One of the men said it was like catching a child doing wrong and saying you will punish them next year. “If this had been done against an African American player, he would have been suspended immediately,” another man said.
I’m not sure about that. This is the World Series and there is very little to keep a star player from playing. Barring serious sickness or a murder charge, it’s about winning and that’s that! If it seems Black Americans can get swifter justice, it’s only because we get hit harder and more often than other people of color. But when you look at the highly disproportionate numbers of African Americans who are unemployed or incarcerated, the numbers are higher than other folks.
Every time racism affects anyone, it affects everyone. We cannot let it go unchecked, or perpetrators will feel emboldened to keep up the bad behavior. If we don’t speak out, it will continue. No matter how many times folks feel entitled to flippantly say or do whatever they want without considering other people’s feelings, someone has to stand up, open their mouth and say, “Excuse me, but that’s not right.”
I applaud the coalition for speaking out against the MLB’s handling of Gurriel. Feel free to join the rest of us, and speak out more often.