When Black Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker commented that “Blacks and Latins take the heat better than most Whites, and Whites take the cold better than most Blacks and Latins,” his mistake was that he overestimated the knowledge of some of the people that would hear his statement. Some arrogant White commentators simply took the opportunity to suggest that Dusty Baker was a racist and that Blacks are racist too.
While some Black apologists, eager to play to the whims of the dominant group, have indicated that Baker’s statements were either stupid or inappropriate, they refuse to accept the notion that race could be a factor in sports. They hastily do so without examining the anthropological basis for such an observation. These Blacks, fearful of being labeled racists, go all out to be politically correct. They are easily tricked into the political agendas that are not in the best interest of Black people. They play into the views of the dominant group without bothering to investigate the merits of the other group’s opinion.
Racism is a tool used by one group in an attempt to establish and maintain the subjugation of another. It is based on biased and unscientific studies of racial differences. The term “reverse racism” is designed to neutralize the legal gains of Blacks and minorities. The need to classify groups of people as superior or inferior is based largely on the economic, social and political manipulations of those who seek dominance and control. Indeed, scientists can be racist and science can be manipulated to serve the will of racists. History provides many examples.
Whereas racial differences were never intended to play a role in the sports world, sometimes they do. If Blacks function better in the heat of the sub-Sahara, then being Black is likely to be an advantage in playing baseball in the heat. Whites obviously do better in climates where the favored sports are bobsledding, skiing and hockey. That’s why they dominate those sports.
Come on, how many Blacks or Latinos have ever competed in the Winter Games? Of course, there are always exceptions. Whereas Blacks tend to excel in sprinting, a five-foot Pygmy may be Black but he is not likely to set many sprint records and Jamaica did enter a bobsled team into a couple of Winter Olympics.
Baker’s comments were not racist. Rather, they are scientifically based in the fields of anthropology. Cultural anthropology and physical anthropology both classify people in order to further understand them. Cultural anthropology addresses social aspects of human life, including language, behavior and beliefs. Physical anthropology examines differences in human physical characteristics and their role in assisting the various racial groups in adapting to given environmental conditions.
For example, typically, skin color is darker in people whose origins are closer to the equator, and the colder climates host lighter-skinned people. White people relish in the opportunity to travel or move to a tropical region where they can temporarily darken their skin. A dark-skinned person who ventures from a tropical region to a polar region, where the sun’s ultraviolet rays are weaker, will most likely lighten in skin tone. Of course, we are all members of the human race. However, a race is further defined as a “group of people distinguished by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.”
In “Racial Variations In Man: Genetic Distinctions (1999),” John Wright suggests that since the origins of man, certain human groups have formed, based upon common characteristics: “Before identifying an occurrence involving race, one must first define races. Based upon this definition of race, one must determine which characteristics are distinct and genetically transmittable, versus which characteristics are genetically transmittable but dependent upon external environment for activation.”
The science of anthropology recognizes that all humans originate from a common African ancestry. Various groups ventured out of Africa to different areas of the world. Anthropologists have classified nine geographic races, including: American Indians, Polynesian, Micronesians, Melanesian, Australian (aborigines), Asiatic, Indian (south Asian), European and African. According to John Wright, basic group distinctions stem from two major sources: environment and lifestyle.
Race has been–historically, socially and politically–based on the more obvious traits of skin color, hair and nationality. These characteristics will continue to define races. Scientifically, there are also differences in traits, like gland sizes, height, weight and fitness between and within racial populations. Groups that share common environments often have common traits, and likewise, groups with similar lifestyles (food source, migratory habits, etc.) oftimes demonstrate common traits.
According to anthropologists, there are numerous characteristics found in all human populations. Skin color, hair, body size, eye shapes and other biochemical traits have all been identified as traits that assist the various groups in adapting to environmental and conditions of the geographic locations that they generally and historically inhabit. Whereas science is debatable, it is not stupid. Indeed, Mr. Baker’s observations are a form of legitimate research. Dusty Baker’s years of observations of the performance of baseball players qualify him as an expert. His observations have merit. Indeed, anthropology supports Dusty Baker’s comments.
(Dr. Harry Davidson is co-chair of the Legislative Advisory Committee of the Association of Black Psychologists.)