Coverage of the Coach Williams rally

I was so ashamed of Worcester after seeing the torrent of criticism Coach Williams received on Tuesday for his suggestion that his team was the victim of referee bias, but I was so proud of this city after attending the rally in front of City Hall.

A large and diverse crowd came together on extremely short notice, and took the high ground to correct misconceptions, provide more evidence that racism and other biases exist in Worcester, and, most importantly, to suggest positive remedies.

Numerous people suggested that this controversy provided Worcester with an “opportunity” to improve the situation, to help us all become more sensitive toward race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. The night ended with a group hug.

A T&G reporter asked what I hoped to get out of the event, and I said that the people of Worcester needed to know the full story: that Coach Williams had raised this issue many times before, and that his remarks were not those of a sore loser playing the race card. I also told the reporter that we wanted an independent investigation of his allegations.

The reporter asked what I thought of the turnout, and I said that I had organized many protests with greater advance preparation that turned out only a fraction of the people. He agreed that it was a very large crowd.

After the rally, I was told that a caller on the Jordan Levy show called in to say, “I drove by City Hall and there are only 30 people at the rally. I hope a bus runs over Scott Schaeffer-Duffy.” This morning’s T&G includes a photo taken very early in the rally which depicts about 30 people [See ed. note]. It also includes another photo which I looked at quickly and said, “Why is there a picture of some white guy?” My daughter pointed out to me that it was me. I replied, “It’s still some white guy.”

The article confirmed my fears. All of the quotes, save two in the last paragraph, are of white people. Nowhere is the size of the rally described. The introductory sentence leads the readers to believe that only South High fans or employees attended. One might think it was a bunch of disgruntled fans.

The quote from the football coach that he has heard opposing teams use “the N-word” for the South team was important corroborating evidence of Coach Williams’s concerns, but featuring it so prominently (5 paragraphs) will only fuel the fury of those who are complaining against Coach Williams on talk radio. They’ll be saying, “I went to the Holy Name-South basketball game and never heard the refs use the n-word.”

People seem to have no awareness of how studies have shown that black male kindergarten students are punished five times more often for the same infractions as are white males, how black males are seldom tracked for college, how black males are many times more likely to be jailed for the same offense as are whites, and on and on. Most people have virtually no idea how pervasive and insidious racism is in our society.

As I said last night, it is the job of minorities to alert us all. I need women to point out to me when I am being sexist. I need Jews to chide me on anti-semetism. I need gays to check my homophobia and I need Latinos, Asians, Blacks and others to check my racial biases. We’ve become very sensitive to sexual abuse, but we still blame the victim when it comes to race. This has got to stop, and it won’t until all our institutions, especially the press, start publicizing all the facts in an incident like this one.

People need to know the truth about Coach Williams and about our rally. I urge everyone to call the T&G and complain about today’s coverage. All those who came out last night, especially those black parents, teachers, and students who had the courage to speak out, deserve to have been heard. Let’s move forward on this issue. Let’s stop misrepresenting the facts.

Last night’s rally was a beautiful event. My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who came.

4 thoughts on “Coverage of the Coach Williams rally”

  1. I can count 65 heads in the T&G photo. The people milling around near the demo were also part of the demo, not just bystanders. I can count almost 90 heads in the color version of the photo on the T&G’s website.

    At the demonstration, I counted exactly 80 people at one point early on. I think it peaked at about 100. The event was well over an hour long, and people came and went. The Indymedia article (not written by me) described 150 people being there, and that sounds reasonable as an aggregate figure.

    The on-line photo is clear enough that the speaker can be identified, and in the T&G’s defense, I don’t think this was taken “early on.” I do think that there were demonstrators milling around to the left of the main group who are not in the photo.

    I was rather glad that they didn’t estimate the crowd size. The Telegram often gets crowd sizes wrong, because they guess without taking the time to actually count. Few people are good at guessing crowd sizes. You gotta take the time to count heads.

  2. Did you watch that show on FX called “Black. White.” that premiered last night? It’s a fairly interesting idea for an experiment— Hollywood makeup artists turn a black family white and a white family black, but it’s hurt by the standard TV search for staged controversy and jumping to conclusions over more thoughtful consideration of the issues. The white man who’s being turned black seems particularly creepy, like he’s gone into the experiment to prove that racism doesn’t exist.

    I must say that some of the scenes with the black guy in whiteface reminded me of that old Eddie Murphy bit on SNL where he went undercover as a white guy, walked into a bank, and they just handed him a briefcase full of money.

  3. This “Black Like Me” stuff is interesting, I think.

    The closest I’ve come is on my hikes, when I often entered a small town tired, filthy, bearded, disoriented, and on foot. If I was able to convince someone I was doing a mega-hike, I was welcomed with open arms, but until then I got a sense of how a homeless bum is treated.

  4. When Jen and I visited Vancouver, where there are both a lot of Asians and a lot of white people, we could walk around together in the streets and pretend to be Canadian, and no one was the wiser. I kept my ears peeled for word of a Canuck invasion of the U.S.A., but they kept pretty tight-lipped about that sort of thing. Nobody walked up to us and offered any back bacon or ketchup-flavoured potato chips or anything like that.

    We look forward to going to Hawaii, where there are also many Asians and many white people, and trying to pass as Hawaiian. Maybe we could get matching muu-muus.

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