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I chose to reflect on the film 42 (2013) which we watched in class. This film presents the obvious racial turmoil going on in the United States post-civil war but pre-integration in the South. The main issue in diversity is Equal Rights which are defined as “rights inherent to all human beings, whatever nationality, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, language, or any other status” (Passmore, 2015). The secondary issue is Social Justice which is defined as being “the view that everyone deserves equal social rights and opportunity no matter race, sex, religion, socioeconomic status, or other discriminatory factors” (Passmore, 2015). This is depicted through the life of Jackie Robinson, the first African American professional baseball player who paved the way for other races to join Major League Baseball. He endured an obscene amount of racial backlash for joining the Brooklyn Dodgers from coaches, players, fans, and even his teammates shown very graphic and very raw in 42. His teammates also faced negative backlash for befriending him, they were not allowed to stay at certain hotels, and fans called them names, and even sent them hate mail. Family and friends of the Dodgers did not approve of them playing ball with a black man resulting in some players being traded. Because of the spotlight Robinson was in, the unfair treatment he was receiving was in the spotlight also. It was very public how hateful opposing fans, players, and coaches were even though African Americans were supposed to be equal at that time. The manager of the Phillies was a good example, he was harassing and humiliating Robinson when he was up to bat and later had to make a public apology to Jackie and never managed a team again after that.

I cannot necessarily relate to Jackie Robinson, but I can form vague connections. My grandpa was kind of like some of the men from the south in the movie, an old racist redneck. Though he was not as bad, especially publicly or to someone’s face, it still upset me to visit him and hear how he would talk about the handful of African Americans in my school or who worked for him. I grew up in a small predominantly white school, I think we had less than ten African Americans in my high school collectively and three were siblings. Our baseball team had one black guy and our football team had two. I never thought anything about it until I came to college where every sports team is very diverse, if anything white people are the minority. I have never had a negative perception of other races, but I have become more aware of how little diversity I grew up with. Since watching the movie I have a much better understanding of how hard it was to integrate sports teams. In school we always learned about integrating schools or public facilities, but never sports teams. It is so interesting to see how Jackie impacted everyone and everything; from younger white boys wanting to be him to creating a new face of baseball in just one year.

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I think every sports team is still experiencing the impact Jackie Robinson made. He made it so that people who would have never had the chance to play at the next level, able to step into that realm and be successful. The Major League, as of 2018 had 750 active African American baseball players (8.4 %), which is the highest since 2012 (Howard, 2018). Today, on April 15 every year MLB players wear the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. Additionally, several programs have been initiated to increase diversity in youth baseball. Investment from the MLB has grown inner-city youth baseball programs which is the future of the MLB (Howard, 2018). This is largely credited to the movement and progress Jackie Robinson sparked. There is however more progress to be made. Out of the 449 pitchers in the league, only 14 are African American (Lelinwalla, 2016). Lelinwalla suggests that this is because parents do not push their children to pitch and team owners push black players into more athletic positions like outfielders and do not invest in converting them to pitchers (Lelinwalla, 2016). The number of players and pitchers is more than that in the era of Robinson, but too much time has passed since with too few pitchers to mirror the progress that has been made.

Unfortunately, there are still people today who choose to discriminate against people of different races, sexes, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. People associated with equal rights and social justice issues still have to overcome social prejudices in everyday life. This includes gender wage gaps and unequal housing opportunities for people of color. To solve this, we should implement training that makes people aware of any implicit biases they may have. We sometimes make preconceived judgments, as humans do, but it is not right to act upon those. Becoming more aware would help employers, bank lenders, teachers, police officers, and real estate agents make fair decisions when hiring, teaching, lending, punishing, or selling a house in certain neighborhoods.

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