Last month, there was a discussion in the comments section here about two of the Yankees’ current African-American stars: Curtis Granderson and C.C. Sabathia. But no mention, if memory serves, of Derek Jeter who is half-black. In an op-ed today in the Daily News, Glenn Stout gets to the heart of the matter:
Jeter is both the game’s first postracial superstar and the Yankees’ first African-American icon, reaching a status that even Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, was unable to achieve.
No, his biracial heritage alone doesn’t make Jeter any better than either black or white superstars to come before him – but the matter-of-fact embrace of his background even before Barack Obama became our first biracial President is culturally significant and should not be a mere footnote as we celebrate his great achievement.
…From the very first day, Jeter seemed totally at home in pinstripes, the Yankees’ next “Everyman.” Coming of age at a time when racial labels don’t mean as much as they once did, he was the child of a black father and white mother. He neither downplayed that fact nor promoted it. It was simply a part of who he was.
Of course, the emergence of Jeter has been nowhere near as racially important as Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color line. That was a cultural earthquake, this a barely detectable tremor. But for those of biracial heritage, Jeter’s quiet success has spoken loudly precisely because of how little it has been remarked upon – by how little news it has made.
It’s something, isn’t it? But true. Race is virtually never discussed when it comes to Jeter. Go figure.
[Painting by Kevin McGoff]