Posts Tagged ‘Social Issues’

Happy 80th Birthday, Roberto Clemente!

August 18, 2014


Happy 80th Birthday to Roberto Clemente! As a baseball and Dodgers fan, Roberto Clemente is one of my all time heroes. This is what I wrote about Clemente last year, so will include it below in addition to couple videos on the pride of Puerto Rico. Enjoy!

Roberto was born in Carolina, Puerto Rico. At an early age, Roberto started playing baseball. In 1954, the Brooklyn Dodgers offered him a contract to play for their Triple-A team, the Montreal Royals. While with the Royals, Roberto didn’t play that much. He was often bench. Some say that the Dodgers were trying to guard him from the Rookie Draft of 1954. But, Clyde Sukeforth, a baseball scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates observed that Clemente was being bench and encouraged the Pirates to draft him. On November 22, 1954, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Roberto Clemente in the Rookie Draft.

Roberto Clemente made his major league debut on April 17, 1955 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He didn’t do well in his rookie season due to being involved in a car accident midway thru the season. Roberto Clemente really exploded with the Pirates in the 1960s. He led the Pirates to a World Series victory over the Yankees in 1960. Clemente led the National League in Batting in 1961, 1964, 1965 and 1967. He was the Most Valuable Player in 1966. He received numerous Gold Glove awards throughout the 60s for his outstanding defense. Clemente had a canon of an arm. He could throw a guy out at third base or home plate from right field. Players knew not to run on Clemente. He was one of the most amazing players to watch. He helped the Pirates win a second World Series in 1971 when the Pirates beat the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles in seven games. He was named World Series MVP after hitting .414 and hitting a solo home run in the Pirates 2-1 victory in game 7 of the World Series.

Roberto Clemente struggled with injuries and in 1972 he only played in 102 games but ended batting .312 in the season. Roberto collected his 3,000 hit, a double of the Mets’ Jon Matlack in front of the Pittsburgh Pirates fans at Three Rivers Stadium. That would end up being his last hit in the major leagues.

Roberto Clemente was not an ordinary baseball player. He used the diamond to expressed one of his many gifts. Clemente was a great soul. He cared for the most marginalized. He demonstrated tremendous compassion to the poor. Following the 1972 season, there was a catastrophic earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua. Upon realizing that some of the aid that he had previously sent to Nicaragua was not reaching those affected by the earthquake but intercepted by the Somoza government, Roberto Clemente boarded a small airplane that was taking aid packages to the victims. The plane left from Puerto Rico on December 31, 1972 but mechanical problems forced the plane to crash into the ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. Everyone from the Pirates attended Clemente’s memorial except his close friend and teammate, catcher, Manny Sanguillen, who decided to jump into the ocean in hopes of finding Roberto’s body. Roberto Clemente’s body was never found.

Roberto Clemente was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame posthumously in 1973, becoming the first Latino to be elected into the Hall of Fame. Roberto was an amazing man. It takes a special man to go out of his way and coordinate emergency relief for victims of an earthquake in another country. Not only did Clemente orgazined relief funds but he put his family aside to personally go to Nicaragua and deliver the aid to the victims.

Major League Baseball (MLB) owes a lot to Roberto Clemente. I know that they have an award name after him for players who best follow Clemente’s humanitarian work but the award is not enough. It is time that Bud Selig, the commissioner of Baseball pays tribute to Clemente just the same way he did to Jackie Robinson. It is time for Clemente’s number 21 to be retired by all major league teams. Having his number 21 retired will send a powerful message that MLB truly honors and respects Clemente’s humanitarian work.

As a Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente fan, I think its only fair that 21 and 42 be the only numbers to be retired by all teams. Having 21 retired paves the way for MLB to have Roberto Clemente Days’ to be celebrated on August 18th as days where MLB will partner up with local community organizations and sponsor an organization that is doing amazing work on issues impacting that baseball’s town. In Los Angeles, it could be a grassroots organization working to end homelessness. In San Francisco, it could be an organization that advocates for equality when it comes to same sex marriages. In New York, it could be an organization that advocates for equal distribution of wealth and holds Wall Street thugs accountable to pay their share of taxes. In Pittsburgh, it could be an organization that brings awareness to the health conditions of the miners in Pennsylvania. If Major League Baseball had Roberto Clemente Days’ on August 18th, we will once again be demonstrating that Sports serves as a vehicle to address social issues that are not only impacting communities but putting the spotlight on community organizations who are making a difference in the lives of many Americans.

May we continue to keep Clemente’s legacy and spirit alive by living our lives for the greater good of others. Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Roberto Clemente lived by that quote. More importantly, he lived by his own quote, “If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don’t do that, you are wasting your time on this Earth,”

My Reflection on 12 years as a Slave

February 26, 2014

I went to see the film, 12 years as a Slave, couple weeks ago with a group of friends and like everyone in the theater I had a difficult time seeing the film without being emotionally shaken. I shed a few tears even though most of my tears filled my heart with a tremendous pain.

As I watched the film I started thinking about the ways this country has not change since the days of Slavery. We may not call it slavery but we continue to live in an Institutional Slavery society where one can argue that our current economic “free market” model is an example where America has not change its evil ways. Our current capitalist model allows certain people to become “masters” over others. Corporations are the new Masters. The 1% are the new Masters. The 99% are the new slaves.

Just like the Masters cling to their religion to dehumanize the slaves, the new Masters are the Religious Right who hold on to conservative views to portray themselves as good Christians or Catholics, while ignoring the social teachings of Jesus who stress compassion for all and recognizing the humanity and dignity of every human being.

There is an African proverb that says: Poverty is Slavery. Given this proverb, our society has treated the poorest of the poor and the working class as the 21st century slaves. In America, both Democrats and Republicans have not done enough to help the poorest of the poor and the working class. It is a moral tragedy that the richest country in the world has millions of people living in poverty and on the streets. Politicians who cater to the corporations and the 1% and don’t pass laws that assist the poorest of the poor to get out of poverty is like the slave master who didn’t want slaves to be educated. Republicans in the eyes of many Americans are clearly seen as today’s slave masters. Not only are the majority of Republicans White but those Republicans who come from the South may easily have relatives who were slave owners.

Another clear example of modern day slavery is America’s Prison Industrial Complex which has many similarities between inmates and slaves. Not only are the majority of people incarcerated people of color but the presence of minorities in overcrowded prisons for nonviolent crimes allows businesses to use inmates and exploit them for free labor. These inmates have to work on slave like conditions. I could go into further detail to showcase the similarities between prisoners and slaves but after watching the movie it will be too painful.

America has to come to grasp with its past by addressing the social issues that are present today. Ignoring today’s social issues only validates yesterday’s cruel behavior.