Dave Roberts denounces anti-Asian racism

March 8th, 2021

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is once again speaking out against racism in the United States.

Last summer, Roberts, who is the son of a Japanese mother and Black father, stood in solidarity with his team in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Most recently, Roberts sent an email to everyone in the Dodgers’ organization condemning the increasing trend of violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders stemming from xenophobia and worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I just think that there's a lot of things going on, in and outside of our country towards Asians with racist bullying acts,” said Roberts, the second Asian American manager in MLB history behind former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu, now bench coach for the Rangers. “I just felt that it hit obviously close to home for me, and I just felt that I wanted to address it internally and show my support for the Asian Americans in our organization.”

Addressed to “All of My Teammates,” Roberts’ email began with these powerful words:

“Over the past year, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans and the Pacific Islander community. In recent months, those attacks have intensified and have targeted the elderly in California and New York -- such bullying is cowardice.”

News of the email was first reported in a story by The Athletic.

As reported in The Athletic story, Roberts was alerted of the issue in a Facebook post by professional basketball player Jeremy Lin. Alarmed by the latest incidents, Roberts and Dodgers traveling secretary Scott Akasaki, who is Japanese American, worked together on the email.

“We're all aware of it and it was just something that was on my heart that I felt needed to be shared,” Roberts said.

In a release issued by the Asian American Journalists Association last month, there were almost 1,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans in the period between March and May 2020 across the United States, according to the United Nations. AAJA also notes that approximately 32 percent of Americans, and 60 percent of Asian Americans have witnessed blaming Asians for the coronavirus, according to a Center for Public Integrity/IPSOS poll.

MLB put out its own statement on Feb. 25, which read, "Across the country, there has been an alarming increase in hate crimes directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. These acts -- based on racist ideologies, xenophobia and ignorance -- have no place in our society or in our communities. It is our shared responsibility to root out this insidious hate with empathy and understanding. We condemn these targeted acts of violence and commit to taking action as we stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. #StopAsianHate."

“[The email] was received the way it was intended,” Roberts said. “What's going on is not right, treating anyone in any race that way. I just think a lot of people felt heard and supported and their voices were heard and that was really important.”

These are among the resources for those who have experienced harassment and violence:

Stand Against Hatred: An incident reporting center by Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Stop AAPI Hate: An incident reporting center managed by Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University.

Counseling and Mental Health Services: A resource for coping with anti-Asian racism and COVID-19 by Harvard University.

Here is the full text of Roberts' email:

To All of My Teammates,

Over the past year, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans and the Pacific Islander community. In recent months, those attacks have intensified and have targeted the elderly in California and New York -- such bullying is cowardice.

Unfortunately, anti-Asian sentiment is a part of American history (see 1880s, 1940s, or the 1980s as examples) and it has resurfaced again during the pandemic as some seem to blame the world’s problems on one ethnic group. To blame Asian Americans at all for the global pandemic is just plain wrong.

I am thankful that Major League Baseball has issued a statement condemning the recent crimes. I am also proud that the Dodgers organization, with its forward-thinking ways, has transformed its work environment by establishing better ways for all employees to be heard, and as a result, I write this letter today. After speaking with Dodger leadership, the entire organization fully supports this view.

Besides Jackie Robinson, the Dodgers have a legacy of being first when it comes to Asian-born players making their Major League debuts like Hideo Nomo (Japan), Chan-Ho Park (Korea), and Chin-Feng Chen (Taiwan). In addition, the Dodgers have had more players of Asian ancestry than any other Major League Baseball team. Of course, we have an extremely diverse fan base helped fueled by the largest Asian American population in the United States. Dodger Stadium has always been a common ground for all.

Many of you know that I was born in Okinawa, Japan and my mother is Japanese. I am proud to stand with my Asian American co-workers, the community, and all others who support an inclusive and open-minded society. #StopAsianHate


Dave Roberts