Standing outside the stadium of the New York Mets minor league team, is a statue in honor of the late Jackie Robinson and his Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese. On Wednesday morning, the statue was found to be defaced with swastikas and racial slurs about Robinson and African-Americans. A manager at the park noticed the graffiti around 8:30 a.m. and reported his findings to the police.
The specific language used on the statues includes the phrase “Heil Hitler” and other derogatory slurs. The Director of Communications for the minor league team called the incident an “absolute tragedy”. The team is fully cooperating with police and local investigators by submitting video footage in hopes of narrowing down a suspect. At this time, nobody has been charged with what the police are calling a hate crime.
The legend of Jackie Robinson has and will forever live on as an icon to the game of baseball. Robinson’s jersey is retired in every ballpark across the nation. Major League Baseball has honored his legacy with “Jackie Robinson Day”, when every player on every team wears the famous No. 42 in honor of the legend. Robinson’s story of courage and triumph has already passed the test of time. I highly doubt the person responsible for the graffiti has something personal against Jackie Robinson, but is instead full of hate, racial divide, and plain stupidity.
Unfortunately, these symbols of racism still occur each and every day in our country. We are far from being close to Martin Luther King’s dream of unity among the races. Bitter reality strikes us all when these acts are garner the national spotlight. Both Robinson and Martin Luther King’s vision for equality has taken great strides since their fight began many years ago. However, public instances like the statue defamation remind us of our shortcomings as a society. The battle is so much more than allowing two people of different ethnicity’s to share a water fountain or a baseball diamond. It’s a constant fight within ourselves for a life free of judgement persecution, and bigotry. We are foolish to think this issue is only getting better in our hands. Whether it’s on a public statue or scribbled on the wall of a gas station bathroom, the dream is still painfully out of reach.