A Story of Colour (or lack thereof)

Hank Aaron

I know very little about American Major League Baseball. The extent of my baseball knowledge is limited to playing for the usual office teams when I was younger. You know the leagues: where everyone ends up with broken fingers, pulled muscles and assorted injuries due to our status as amateurs pretending to be athletes. Hitting the pub after the game was what we did best.

A few years back, someone suggested to me that Terrance Moore’s talk show was quite good and I wanted to catch an episode. When I tuned in, it so happened he was interviewing the legendary Hank Aaron, retired American Major League Baseball right fielder. This interview was fascinating! It is amazing what you learn when you step out of your comfort zone. I had no idea who Hank was and what an inspiration he is. Hank is not only a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame but a civil rights activist and a true gentleman. He won my heart and, not only is he an American hero, but he is now one of my heroes!

As a white, Protestant, middle class, Canadian air force brat, I can tell you I never even met a person of colour until I was in my teens. It just never happened. No neighbours, no school mates, no one. We were all lily white (how boring) and the occasional person of oriental persuasion. But I did see people of other races on television. Back in the day, I thought Bill Cosby of I Spy was just dreamy (don’t go there) and Ron Glass of Barney Miller fame was on my list of men I was going to grow up and marry.

In my home, racism did not exist. My parents were very clear that everyone was the same – black, white, Jewish, Chinese, whatever – people were people and that was the end of the discussion. So when the time finally came when I did meet people who didn’t look like me, it was rather delightful. I felt as though I was a new member of the United Nations and very cosmopolitan!

If you will indulge me, I have a brief inspirational true story that always makes me smile. It took place when my family lived in a small town of about 7,000 residents due south of where I now reside. My son was in Grade 3. On one particular fall day, he came home excited that there was a new boy in his class and could he please bring him home to play. I asked what the little boy was like. He told me he was the same age as him but very tall.

Next day my son brought his new friend home after school. The two came bounding into the kitchen for introductions and, much to my surprise, this little fellow was black. I mean VERY black. How that little detail had been overlooked in my son’s description makes me proud to this day. His friend was indeed very tall and it seems that was all that differentiated my short son from his new buddy. Apparently, my son is colour blind and wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone was. At that moment I thought to myself I got this one right.

When I read the news and witness on television all the turmoil, hatred and racial division in the United States, it might be a good time for each of us to watch Terrence Moore’s interview with this inspiring man, the great Hank Aaron. Open your heart and mind and be introduced to a new way of looking at each other. It is quite painless.

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