Video Reflection: African Americans in Sports
After watching this video I feel very enlightened and that I have learned a lot about African American struggles through sports.
I never realized the amount of discrimination and prejudice they faced, nor did I realize the diversity challenges they faced. From Jack Johnson all the way through to Hank Aaron the discrimination and threats that African American athletes faced was disheartening to say the least.Before watching this video I never realized that Jack Johnson faced the threats or that his fights caused many of his own race to be mobbed and doted as a result. Even when he beat the all American Jiffies he had no respect, despite being one of the greatest boxers of all time African American or not. The lack of support from white America was surprising and personally, always thought that they would just cheer on the best athlete regardless. Fast foreword to Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics and you wouldn’t know that African American athletes were not well supported.Jesse Owens seemingly had the entire nation backing him yet when he got back the beliefs still lingered and almost destroyed him.
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Moving to baseball, without Jackie Robinson baseball wouldn’t be the same as it is today, yet he faced death threats and had things thrown at him on a daily basis. Given all of their struggles with discrimination its hard to imagine sports being the same had America not eventually accepted the best athlete regardless of color.While the discrimination was rough the hardest thing to overcome was the prejudice they faced being less talented and not as good as White Athletes. The biggest obstacle for African Americans to overcome was without a doubt the prejudice. America had a set of beliefs based around the white man being superior in all things. Jack Johnson beat every man they put in front of him, yet his attitude was widely viewed as unacceptable. Even when he beat “America’s Champion” nothing changed.
Hardheadedness of America wouldn’t let them accept anything else even when it was proven.Jack Johnson out-boxed, Jesse Owens out ran, Jackie Robinson, Satchel Page, and Hank Aaron outplayed, yet the white athlete was still superior. It was widely based on the prejudice that African American athletes were incapable of handling themselves in a respectful manner. Even though Joe Lewis proved that theory to be false. The prejudice wouldn’t break and the struggle would continue. In this video I personally thought one of the most important moments occurred in the chase for the home run king.Many people believed Hank Aaron was after the record for his own personal gloating, and I would’ve been on board with that theory.
However, when Hank Aaron was asked about it he said “I’m don’t want them to forget Babe Ruth, I just want them to remember me. ” This quote to me was special and significant in that it showed African Americans wanted to have their own legacy. Despite being different in every physical characteristic, they just wanted to play like everyone else. That ideal in the ND I believe is what conquered all of the hate.Despite being exciting to watch and bringing a new skill level to the games they didn’t think they were superior, they just wanted to be able to prove they could play. Before I watched this video I’ll admit, I didn’t know how hard it was for African American athletes. Given every sport today is mostly populated by African Americans, it’s difficult and near impossible to imagine sports without them.
Overall would say, even though pro sports are flooded with African Americans today; I learned how hard they had to work for the right to not only compete, but to be accepted as equals.