JACL Disappointed By Level of Discipline of Racist Gesture: Statement from JACL National President

Update: JACL requested a formal meeting with the commissioner. That letter can be found here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 1, 2017

Statement by Gary Mayeda, National President, gmayeda@jacl.org

Commissioner Manfred’s decision is to suspend Mr. Gurriel for 5 games in 2018. That starts March 29, 2018. Why does that just not satisfy me??

As a kid that grew up just 10 miles north of here, I was often subjected to the slant eye gesture. I was angered but why was my race made fun of? I did no harm to anyone. The other kids were laughing. Why did they want to humiliate and belittle people of Asian descent? I may never know. Maybe they don’t know me. Like thousands of other kids that look like me, this was their first experience of what racism feels like. And it didn’t feel good.

Mr. Gurriel may not have meant any harm but that is what kids said to me. Mr. Gurriel’s self- proclaimed intent doesn’t make it OK.

The delayed punishment made things worse. It’s like those laughing kids were told, Stop That! Go sit down….next week. Yes, it’s that ridiculous.

Families everywhere have the same visceral reaction that is hard to define because we don’t know why people do this. The justice delayed is justice denied. When we discipline our kids, we don’t say your grounded…starting next year. If you heard, “You’re punished…starting in March of 2018”, you would react, Wow, how cool!!

The world is watching you, Commissioner Manfred.

Your audience is not just the players or the players union. They are more than the fans in Los Angeles or Houston. The people you most want to teach the good lessons of baseball are the Little league players. They watch the MLB players, umpires and of course what they do and how they are disciplined.

The decision affects kids both Asians and non-Asians everywhere. My friend Peggy Kamon- Mato this weekend was met by strangers who pulled the slant eye gesture to her in front of her young daughter. I blame the lack of immediate suspension by Commissioner Manfred as a green light for strangers to send racist gestures to mothers and kids. This is not an isolated incident and is increasing as people come forth to share their stories on social media.

Baseball is an opportunity to teach our youth sportsmanship, strategy, teamwork and even math. Baseball welcomes players from every country to play for their favorite team in the US. This field of dreams is a lesson in classic Americana that is taught in every town big or small, urban or rural.

Baseball is a test of skills but more importantly it is a test of character and respect.

Commissioner Manfred, you fell short of that test and should have suspended Yuli Gurriel immediately. Yuli, after your class on cultural sensitivity, you should talk to kids about what you learned. Kids everywhere deserve to be safe and not be bullied. They need to know that they too should speak out if they are discriminated against. Learn a better lesson than what we just witnessed.

The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.

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