Baseball, race and postcolonial history are the focus of Washington County’s monthly “Scholar Sip” forum on Wednesday, March 8. Levon Hudson, Library Assistant at UW-WC, will present his interesting research at 3:30pm in the library lounge.
Hudson’s interest in this topic piqued in 2010 after reading a USA Today article about race and baseball. One quote from an African-American player particularly caught his eye, “People see dark faces out there [on the baseball field] and the perception is that they’re African-American. They’re not us. They’re imposters.” Hudson notes that “in a time of increasingly concrete racial categories, the concept of a Black Latino person is unfathomable to some, yet precisely such people are becoming the biggest superstars in MLB.” Hudson’s research focused on locating some of the important historical processes which led to the present state of affairs.
Hudson’s talk will include an early history of Cuban baseball, with a particular focus on cultural and racial exchanges taking place during the early 20th century between and among baseball players in the U.S. and Cuba. He notes that when we see players native to Cuba and the U.S.—of African and of European descent—playing with and against each other in both nations, the distinct Cuban and U.S. systems of racial organization come to the fore. Levon will provide specific examples of players navigating both of these systems. The impact of the 1959 Cuban Revolution on U.S.- Cuban baseball relations will also be discussed as a microcosm of its broader historical impacts. Finally, he’ll provide a brief rumination on the present and future of Cuban-U.S. baseball relations.
Those attending will learn that baseball’s “Color Line” was blurring well before Jackie Robinson broke it in 1947. Contrary to popular assumption, multiple professional baseball leagues (not MLB) operated quite successfully with racially integrated lineups from the late 19th century into the mid-20th century. Secondly, the micro-lens of baseball can give us insight into the macro-historical processes at work during this time, namely constructions of racial and national identities, and the African Diaspora which intersects both. Finally, we will understand MLB (Major League Baseball) as a multinational corporate entity acting exclusively in its self-interest, and that the history discussed in this presentation will posit such characterization as a historical continuity over time, rather than a recent development.
The March “Scholar Sip” monthly community forum offers interesting conversation and great coffee as its two main components. Scheduled on the second Wednesday of each month, the forums feature campus as well as guest scholars who discuss research interests, recent or upcoming publications, pet projects or simply a topic of general interest. No reservations are needed, admission is free and everyone is welcome to the 3:30pm-4:30pm informal forum, held in the library lounge (on 2nd floor).
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