In Part 2 of this conversation, Jemele and I converse candidly about some issues that need to be addressed in sports. I really appreciate her honesty. It’s unusual to hear someone voice their true thoughts in such an arena. She deserves mad props for understanding the true meaning of what The Starting Five is all about. My wish is that all writers would be this forthcoming because only then will sports fans truly learn through a writer’s extensive experience as well as the sports they cover. We see sports differently than fans. The levels and layers of understanding are vastly different because its our specialty. These interviews have that in mind, so begin to see a little more objectively and open up your perspective of sports in general.
MT: Are you comfortable with the way MLB is celebrating the anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking into the major leagues? What’s your opinion or earliest memory of Jackie Robinson?
JH: I think Jackie Robinson is probably one of the most underrated athletes of our time. His place in history is also underrated. Reading what he went through is just like a Hank Aaron story, it literally brings a tear to your eye. It makes you respect him that much more when you see what he had to endure. I have read his story many times. I have interviewed people in his family and I am stunned every single time at how he did it. It makes me almost embarrassed when I hear certain athletes talk about how they face racism. They use this word lightly. They don’t really understand what racism is until they take a peek at what Jackie Robinson had to go through. I believe that MLB plans to have everyone wear the number #42 on April 15th to celebrate his anniversary, which I feel is a fine tribute. I think his place in history has been solidified. He was just an amazing man. Someone wrote a book about his impact on integration—which I think is something for a far deeper conversation. What is interesting is how integration affected the inner cities and not always in a good way. Obviously a great door was opened but at the same time it is interesting to me that a great door was also closed when you look at what happened with the inner cities regarding culture and sports.