Josh Hader, a standout pitcher for the Milwaukee Bucks, was like many teenagers in recent times who used the Internet to express ignorant and often racist views. Over the weekend, Hader was given a standing ovation that could be interpreted as a pathway to forgiveness but for it to happen just days after racist tweets of his resurfaced begs a question of timing and the power of white privilege.
Last week, a number of tweets posted by Hader in 2011 and 2012 showcased a young man who shared homophobic and racist views not unlike that swirls about online today in President Donald Trump’s America. Hader has been public about apologizing for his actions and to his teammates. Further, the MLB has surrounded the Millersville, Md. native with a variety of tools such as diversity and inclusion training in an epic showing of coddling the 24-year-old slinger.
This sounds like a fantastic tale of redemption, given that Hader had the backing of his Brewers teammates, including Jesus Aguilar and Lorenzo Cain, who stood behind him Friday (July 20) during a 90-minute press conference before a game. On Saturday (July 21) ahead of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the mostly-white crowd stood and applauded Hader for reasons surely related to the recent tweets surfacing early last week and Hader’s earnest apologies.
But the message it sends is conflicted. Are these fans applauding his growth, or are they championing his views on gays and people of color? It’s hard to imagine the reaction if a Black pitcher who made homophobic and other offensive tweets getting the same amount of grace. Hader’s “gee-golly, I really messed up here” stance only serves the narrative that the privilege of being white in this country is to be quickly absolved of actions that would get other individuals excommunicated with the swiftness.
Let’s say Hader is sincere, it doesn’t explain why he gets an ovation. Nobody should be rewarded for doing the right thing, especially after it was revealed that the person’s past was far less worthy of such support.
Josh Hader says those tweets were just something to do and not who he is now. Hader now has to show and prove that fact now and for the rest of his career.