"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

"He's a Bi-Racial Angel"

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]


1 rbj   ~  Jul 13, 2011 9:21 am

Can we get past "race?" Biologically speaking, there is no such thing as "race." There's more genetic diversity within sub-Saharan Africa than the rest of the world combined. What I care about is the Yankees winning today, and winning the World Series. I don't give a rat's ass the color of their skin or their bedroom partner.

2 bags   ~  Jul 13, 2011 9:35 am

it is funny. i was thinking the other day that jeter reminds me of michael jordan in that both guys are aggressively bland. jordan was all basketball and jeter is all baseball. there is no social or cultural side to either of them. i think that has more to do with jeter's "post racial" status than the color of his skin or anything to do with his ability to transcend labels.

3 RagingTartabull   ~  Jul 13, 2011 9:59 am

I feel like its only white people who ever use the term "post-racial"...and I say this as a white guy.

4 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 13, 2011 10:13 am



5 vockins   ~  Jul 13, 2011 10:33 am

[1] I'd say we can and will, but considering prior events, don't hold your breath. Don't have your grandkids hold their breath, either. But it'll happen.

6 Dimelo   ~  Jul 13, 2011 10:38 am

I actually think Jeter's pecker is the real "bi-racial angel", imagine having all those supermodels. How is that not angelic and one step closer to heaven than us mere mortals will never get to?

7 Raf   ~  Jul 13, 2011 10:50 am

[0] It could be that he doesn't play up the bi-racial angle. From a personality POV, that just seems to be the way he is, given what we know of him thus far. Historically, other than a couple of years where he lived it up (drawing the ire of Steinbrenner), Jeter's been pretty bland, even when you include his upbringing. Biracial parents, well adjusted home, good kid in a suburban setting, talented HS player. The media loves a good narrative, and there isn't much of one with Jeter. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know.

[1] Given that people caught hell in this country based on the color of their skin, I say "no" we can't get past race. I doubt we ever will. And I'm perfectly fine with that.

You may not care what Jeter looks like, but there are many Black and Bi-racial people that do. Same for the Italians and Joe DiMaggio, Jews and Sandy Koufax, Mexicans and Fernando Valenzuela, etc, etc, etc.

[3] "White people" control the media and images the media presents, it would also make sense that they would create and or use the term "post-racial."

What I find most interesting and cool about Jeter being a Yankee (and baseball for that matter) icon is that he managed to become one while not being the best player on his team. I remember when he first came up how he was overshadowed by Nomar and Alex, and then to a lesser extent, Tejada. Even on his own team, he was overshadowed by Bernie, Tino and Paulie. Never won a batting title, or MVP. But after all these years, here he is. 3,000+ hits, World Champion several times over, Yankees Captain, HOF career, managed to stay above the steroids scandal, as well as avoid controversy throughout his career... Not bad, not bad at all.

8 MSM35   ~  Jul 13, 2011 3:42 pm

We really need to get back to the season. The editor saying, "Write me a Jeter story". is getting old. The deeper meaning of Derek Jeter can be parced down the road.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver