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Daniels on activism: 'We have a responsibility'

@Sullivan_Ranger
June 4, 2020

ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, husband and father of three children, knows the Rangers and the game of baseball are not isolated from what’s transpiring across the country. He understands these events have a profound impact on all Major League clubs, their communities and fans, and the people

ARLINGTON -- Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, husband and father of three children, knows the Rangers and the game of baseball are not isolated from what’s transpiring across the country. He understands these events have a profound impact on all Major League clubs, their communities and fans, and the people and players working in the game.

“It's hard to see. And it stirs a lot of feelings, emotions, fear. It is hard to watch,” Daniels said. “It’s not comfortable. It’s not an easy topic, and seeing the raw images, it’s kind of emotionally challenging.”

Protests across the nation erupted after disturbing video emerged of the killing of George Floyd while he was apprehended by members of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25. One officer has been charged with second-degree murder in the case, while three other officers who did not intervene now also have been charged.

George Floyd's death reverberates around MLB

There have been protests and demonstrations in North Texas, not just in Dallas and Fort Worth but also in surrounding communities including Arlington, Frisco and others.

“To state the obvious, I'm not black,” Daniels said. “I can't sit here and put myself in the shoes of somebody who is, and I don't have the same response to it or fears as far as how it might affect myself or my kids personally, walking down the block. But I've just been trying to look at it from the perspective of: What can we learn? And more importantly, how can we ultimately help?

“I think it starts with acknowledgment that we have an issue. It's not any one thing or person, but it's deeper-seated and rooted than that. And then, like anything else, if you want to get better, you have to do a little self-evaluation.”

Daniels admitted Floyd’s death has become a flashpoint, but the issue of race relations is something America has struggled with going back to the beginning of the republic.

“We've all known it was there, right?” Daniels said. “And quite frankly, we haven't done enough about it. It's not hard to think of the other recent examples. Now, for me, I think the challenge is to take how we're all feeling about it and commit to not letting it slip away when the next change in seasons comes along.”

Major League Baseball released a statement on Wednesday addressing the death of George Floyd and the resulting protests and demonstrations taking place across the country.

“We offer our condolences to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all the families that have lost loved ones due to senseless killing and injustice.

“To be clear, our game has zero tolerance for racism and racial injustice.

“The reality that the Black community lives in fear or anxiety over racial discrimination, prejudice or violence is unacceptable.

“Addressing this issue requires action both within our sport and society. MLB is committed to engaging our communities to invoke change. We will take the necessary time, effort and collaboration to address symptoms of systemic racism, prejudice and injustice, but will be equally as focused on the root of the problem.”

Rangers players have voiced their feelings through social media and other platforms.

“I usually don’t get into this, but from what I’ve been seeing is heartbreaking,” outfielder Willie Calhoun said on Twitter. “It’s unreal that we are still living in a society where the color of our skin STILL matters and puts a target on our backs. As a young black male watching what is going on with racial injustice and inequalities is unbelievable.

“I was never taught to look at another person for the color of their skin, but I was taught to treat others with respect and compassion as a person no matter what. Things have to change and to move in a more positive direction, we must come together as a whole and work for our communities.”

Daniels said part of the change will come from paying attention and listening to what is being said.

“Obviously, right now, it's at the forefront, so we're all talking about it,” Daniels said. “But I've just been thinking about: What sort of action follows that up? What can we do in our community and our own areas to help? And ultimately, to help in a constructive manner that doesn't get in the way or undermine the people who are closer to it, and what they're trying to accomplish with the movement.

“I don't want this to be a PR thing. Where will we be next time when it's not easy? When it's not at the forefront?

“Like most of you, all of you, I'm sure, I love our country. I respect our police, I respect our institutions, but I also recognize that I want to be part of something to help reform them in a positive way.”

Baseball, like the rest of the country, has been shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. The progress being made toward restarting games this summer is being closely watched.

“I think there is a responsibility there,” Daniels said. “We are an entertainment business, but baseball has always been more than that. Different Commissioners have talked over the years about how we are a social institution and we have always been proud of our interaction in the community. Baseball as a whole has celebrated Jackie Robinson and the impact he had not just on the game but on civil rights.

“With that comes a responsibility not to shrink away when it’s more challenging. It’s easy to have a social media presence when things are rosy. But when it’s affecting our communities and friends and colleagues on all topics, I do think we have a responsibility as an organization and an industry to contribute in a positive way to that.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.