The Oakland A’s and Ryan Christenson released statements after his racist gesture following Thursday’s game. Christenson’s apology is not enough.
The story of the Oakland A’s game yesterday should have been Matt Olson. Since growing his 1980s style moustache, he has been on a power surge, with three homers in the last two games. Instead, the story was A’s bench coach Ryan Christenson and his racist gesture as the team was celebrating their victory.
After the game, Christenson issued an apology, and the A’s released a statement, through social media. It is what anyone would expect to read – that the gesture was an accident and Christenson is deeply sorry. Likewise, the A’s also expressed that they are deeply apologetic that this happened on their playing field.
Accidents happen. Things are said and done that can be offensive without someone realizing it. The social climate is ever-changing, and it is easy to make a mistake. But anything resembling the Nazi salute has been offensive since World War Two ended in 1945.
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The A’s, meanwhile, continue to champion themselves for attempting to further the conversation about racial equality. They have a Black Lives Matter link on the front of the official A’s website linking to different community resources. The A’s Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Taj Tashombe, hosts a weekly conversation about race with various guests. They have stated their support for Tony Kemp‘s push to have more conversations about racial inequality and promote understanding.
But actions speak louder than words. At this point, the actions speaking loudest are Christenson’s gestures and the A’s own milquetoast response. Something more needs to be done in order to send the message that this will not be tolerated.
Does this mean that Christenson should be fired? No. By all accounts, that gesture does not, in any way, reflect the type of person he is. It just seems like he made a dumb mistake, and did not realize it until he attempted to puzzle it out for himself, hence the second salute.
But something more needs to be done. Christenson needs to be a part of one of those discussions, either with Kemp or Tashombe, while undergoing sensitivity training. And a suspension would not be unreasonable.
Ryan Christenson’s apology is not enough. If the Oakland A’s are serious about their stature in furthering better race relationships, they need their actions to match their words.