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.