Stanton on BLM movement: 'Now's the time'
NEW YORK -- The last six weeks have seen barriers crumble to permit difficult, important conversations concerning race relations in the United States, and Giancarlo Stanton is among the numerous Major League players who have embraced this opportunity to speak with honesty.
In response to the May 25 killing of George Floyd, Stanton participated in a video released last month that addressed the Black Lives Matter movement. Yankees teammates Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks lent their voices to the project, as did retired hurler CC Sabathia.
“I feel like the door’s been opened that should have been opened a long time ago,” Stanton said. “We've always talked about it amongst ourselves; you know, the cities where we hear things that we shouldn't in the outfield. Now’s the time to let it be known that this needs to stop.”
Judge is the first face seen in the video, which was produced by Coleture Group and edited by Brandon Mihm, an assistant director of original content in the Yankees’ scoreboard department.
“We’ve been told that our peaceful pleas were not made at the right time, at the right place and the right way,” the players say. “We’ve been told to wait, but we remember when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned us that the word ‘wait’ has almost always meant ‘never.’ We will wait no longer.
“We will make our voices louder for all of us who can and for all of those who could not. Eight minutes and 46 seconds is enough time to lift a knee. To do what is right. To say something to acknowledge the pain of the Black community. You have cheered for us, but we need you to cheer with us now when we need you the most. Black Lives Matter.”
The Yankees have told players that they are free to use all available platforms to amplify their voices, according to manager Aaron Boone, who said that there have been discussions throughout the organization and with individual players in the wake of Floyd’s killing.
“We're going to always encourage them to speak their mind and their heart,” Boone said. “It is something that I think is a very important conversation and hopefully is obviously a huge conversation in our country right now. It’s a conversation that we hope to advance and be better for. Hopefully we're having difficult conversations amongst each other all the time.”
Hicks said that he was spurred to action by the protests that filled streets of cities large and small, counting as many as 26 million participants across the United States, according to The New York Times.
“It's a strong movement right now that I definitely want to be a part of,” Hicks said. “This is something that's been going on throughout my life, Black players and Black people in general life, and it's kind of been going kind of unnoticed. I've already started to do different things, like trying to be able to wear more black clothing, eat at more Black restaurants, just being able to be more out there in the community to kind of help Black people out in general.”
Those protests also captured the attention of Yankees left-hander James Paxton, who is White. In June, Paxton said on Instagram that his “white privilege has allowed me to be oblivious to the true magnitude of oppression the Black community faces.”
Paxton said that he has been reading articles, watching documentaries and listening to podcasts to gain a better understanding of the situation.
“I've just been trying to learn,” Paxton said. “It's something that I haven't paid a lot of attention to. I've been pretty ignorant to it up until now. I'm not at a point where I feel comfortable speaking too much about it, but I'm just trying to soak up and learn as much as I can right now so that I can be more educated and become an ally and do things. My wife [Katie] and I have donated to a couple different organizations and we plan on doing more in that area.”
Asked if he believes that players will protest during the upcoming season, as former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell did in September 2017 by dropping to a knee during the playing of the National Anthem, Boone said that it may happen.
“We'll have conversations, and I'm sure those things are very, very possible,” Boone said. “We've already seen those in different leagues. I'm sure that's very much on the minds and hearts of several players.”
The discussion continues daily, and Stanton senses that it has the potential to enact lasting change. He intends to be part of the solution.
“It feels different, to the fact that more will listen now,” Stanton said. “We’ve got to be a face. We’ve got to be the outlet to get the information out there and show that to lead the force.”