By Steve Manzo
On Thursday, Feb. 16, DeSales had the honor of hosting the retired Major League Baseball player Doug Glanville. In his MLB career, he played a combined total of nine seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. Since then he has kept himself busy with writing his own novel titled “The Game From Where I Stand,” regularly contributes to the New York Times and currently serves as a baseball analyst at ESPN.
However, his visit to our school was for a reason other than baseball. He came with messages of enlightenment and unity as he addressed the crowd about facing adversity in the United States’ current climate of social justice and how to respond to it in a constructive manner.
Glanville started off the conference with giving some insight into his upbringing. This included how he had a multicultural background growing up in Teaneck, NJ and how sports was always
a place to find common ground amongst his peers, which gave the audience great context for what was to follow.
The core of the presentation began as Glanville started to walk the audience through a scenario where a community would face a social justice challenge and then ask the crowd what they thought would happen. He set the scene of Hartford, CT in great detail, giving descriptions on housing information, schools and landmarks throughout the city. He then showed a picture of a house and had the audience guess the characteristics of the homeowner including income, profession, ethnicity and religion.
The story continued with having the homeowner shoveling snow off his driveway when a police officer from the next town over approached him. Glanville gave the audience four different lines in varying attitudes that the cop would say to the man. He also asked us if what the cop said would be different based on the ethnicity and appearance of both the homeowner and the officer. It was in this stage that Glanville revealed the true background to the story he was telling; it was about himself.
He then revealed the correct answers to his scenario. The homeowner was him, an African American retired baseball player with a wife and kids. A white police officer approached him in his driveway and the question he asked was, “So you trying to make a few extra bucks, shoveling people’s driveways around here?”
Once the whole context for his story was laid out, Glanville posed the question of “Who are you going to go to in that situation?”
He listed out many possible resources and explained the merits of each including state representatives, police in and out of jurisdiction, the mayor and other community leaders, media and your neighbors.
He reached out to his local police through his state representative, who just happened to live a few houses down from him. Those conversations eventually led down a path towards a bill being drafted and instated in the state of Connecticut highlighting the law between township jurisdictions and enforcement of ordinances.
As this was happening, he wrote an excellent article for The Atlantic to tell the world about his experience. It should be noted that none of his actions were with malicious intent. His goal was not to avenge the cop who stopped him, but ultimately he wanted his experience to be a starting point for positive change both in his immediate community and throughout the country. Glanville has already seen changes happen in ways he labeled as unexpected including how his story is being used as a teaching tool for social justice in their local school system.
However, his main message was one of patience and knowing when to take a stand. It can be risky and awkward to take a stand, but it is up to the individual to deem if an issue is worth fighting for and is the right thing to do. This certainly rings true from a social justice perspective, but it is also a critical lesson in going about everyday life.