SF Giants asked to take a stand against racism UPDATED

Will the Giants wear their anti-racist jerseys against the Diamondbacks this week?

Updated with response from SF Giants at bottom of post

The San Francisco Giants will host the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight (July 31), beginning a three-game series that will determine the first place slot in the National League West. A lot of eyes will be on our 2010 league champions – all the more reason, says a classic Mission District arts and culture organization, for them to take a stand against racist anti-immigration laws.

In early June, community members who had been leaders of the 1960s to '80s group Casa Hispana de Bellas Artes sent Giants CEO Bill Newcombe a letter with a simple request. They want the baseball team to wear its popular 'Gigantes' jerseys while playing the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Atlanta Braves, two squads that hail from states that have recently passed laws codifing racial profiling in the fight against illegal immigration. The letter tells the team "this kind of law has created a paralyzing climate of fear among Latino families, citizen and non-citizen alike."

San Francisco, the Casa Hispana elders insist, does not swing at discriminatory government. Reminding the Giants organization of its long-standing support of the Latino community, they're politely encouraging the team to represent its fans by speaking out against discrimination. We caught up with Casa Hispana elder Don Santina for an email interview to explain why his group asked its team for a wardrobe change. The Guardian was unable to reach the SF Giants for comment – but any organizational response we get will be added to this post.


San Francisco Bay Guardian: Tell us about the mission of Casa Hispana de Bellas Artes.

Don Santina: Casa Hispana de Bellas Artes was founded in 1966 in the Mission District by a group of artists and poets to promote cultural advocacy for Latino-Chicano-Raza culture. [Our] group produced and sponsored programs year-round but focused particularly on an annual two-month long Raza/Hispanidad Festival which opened on October 12, Dia de la Raza. Among the multitude of programs, exhibits, performances, and events produced included major undertakings like the Chichen Itza exhibit at SF State, the pre-Colombian artifacts at the De Young and 24th Street BART station opening, the Cisco Kid Festival with Duncan Renaldo, and the Latin American Theatre Festival with Enrique Buenaventura, and low rider car exhibit at the US Presidio. Casa faded into history in 1983 when its major funding sources withdrew. The National Endowment for the Arts was seized by Reaganites.

In 1975 Casa Hispana executive director Amilcar Lobos Yong read a bilingual version of "Casey at the Bat" at Candlestick Park as part of a program in honor of the Giant's support of the Latino community. Photo by Joe Ramos

SFBG: Why did you send this letter to the Giants?

DS: The elders of Casa wrote to Bill Newcomb’s Giants organization because it had produced a pre-game program in Candlestick Park with Horace Stoneham’s Giants team in 1975 honoring the Giants for their “pioneer recognition of Latin players” in the racist world of major league baseball.  At the event, Casa Poets Theatre read “Casey at the Bat” in English and Spanish before the game and gave awards to the Giants, Juan Marichal, and Tito Fuentes for his works with youth in the Mission District (editor's note: the awards were presented by long-time Bay Area Latino news legend Luis Echegoyen). Casa people felt that the Giants should continue that anti-racist policy by making a genuine statement against SB 1070 by at least wearing Gigantes uniforms when playing Arizona and Atlanta.


SFBG: What's been the response from the team? Did they get back to you?

DS: The Giants received Casa’s letter on June 9, and the business has not responded. Casa is disappointed in this lack of response and respect from a San Francisco-based team which has many Latino players.


SFBG: What is a professional sports team role's in their community? Should they be speaking out on political and social issues? 

DS: A professional sports team has the same responsibilities to the community as any other business; in a word: Spike Lee’s “do the right thing.” Unfortunately, these teams are all mega-corporate businesses with morality based on profit. Dave Zirin has covered this topic very thoroughly.


SFBG: How much of the artists and community members involved with Casa Hispana are baseball fans?

DS: Most of the Casa people love the Giants; however, they also love fútbol, a.k.a. the international game of soccer.   


SFBG: Do you think they'll be wearing the Gigantes jerseys at AT&T Park tonight?  

DS: We don’t think they’ll wear the Gigantes uniforms without public pressure or embarrassment. [But] if they do, it will be beneficial as a public stand against racial profiling laws. 


UPDATED WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3: The Guardian contacted Giants spokesperson Shana Daum, who said she couldn't recall recieving Casa Hispana's letter but that the Giants would not be wearing their Gigantes jerseys at all during this week's Arizona series. "We try to support the community, but we don't want to take a political stance," she told us.

"There's other ways for major league baseball to get involved." Daum cited the team's annual Fiesta Gigantes celebration during September's Hispanic Heritage Month, HIV/AIDS awareness days, the team's pioneering involvement in the It Gets Better campaign. She added "but we appreciate the spirit in which [Casa Hispana's request to wear the Gigantes jersey] was asked."


Radio host Tony Bruno's recent comments about Giant's pitcher Ramon Ramirez is reason enough for the Giant's organization to show support against the Arizona's SB1070 legislations.

Posted by Guest Joe on Aug. 07, 2011 @ 5:16 am

Ms Daum says "we don't want to take a political stance." If she thinks the "It Only Gets Better" video--which is excellent policy-- is not a "political" stance, then she must live in a bubble which ignores the legions of rabid Christian fundamentalists who are opposed to such educational videos. It's "political" hypocrisy. The Giants don't want to offend the right wing racist who owns the Diamondbacks. Viva Los Suns, who have guts!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 7:30 pm

The Giants' organization's response that "We try to support the community, but we don't want to take a political stance," is actually a political position. The singing of the National Anthem is a political stance, honoring veterans is a political stance, speaking out on HIV is a political stance, honoring Project Homeless Connect is a political stance, honoring Martin Luther King Jr. is a political stance...then remaining silent on Arizona's racist legislation? Their silence and denial that they never received a letter from Casa Hispana speaks volumes.

Posted by Guest Joe on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

No one denied they received the letter, the spokesperson I talked to couldn't remember having seen it.

But I hear you Joe.

Posted by caitlin on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

I think that what we need now is that the Latino players in the Giants organization voice their opinions, in private (with the giants) or in public.

Hope the Giants organization, too, take a stand in this awful controversy, is so simple, act humanely or keep quiet, the easiest way.

Let's go Giants!

Posted by Guest - Maria on Aug. 03, 2011 @ 6:13 am

Sadly, the Giants are no longer giants -- not like Jackie Robinson or Steve Nash. Since the Giants refuse to support the Latino community, I will no longer support the Giants as a fan.

There is only one team I root for these days~

Viva Los Suns!!!

Posted by Lisa on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

Other teams already showed their stand against those discriminatory laws in this 21rst Century. Giants, should taka a stand. Go for it!!! Like all San Franciscans... this is still a sanctuary city.

Posted by Guest AgainstRacism on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

perhaps a candlelight vigil. The potent combination of baseball jerseys and candles should clear up the whole racism thing by tomorrow morning, latest.

When we're done with racism, then we can take back the night. From...uh...whoever has it at the moment.

Once we've eliminated racism and taken back the night, then I'd like to buy the world a Coke, but only one, so you'll all have to share. Thank you.

Posted by Chromefields on Aug. 02, 2011 @ 11:32 am

The GLBT community appreciates that more than most people can understand.

Posted by Right on Sister Snapples on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

of SF progressives is racist.

The lesson to learn here is that if you make your own reality, you can demand people to live in it. If others refuse to live your created world, complain and complain.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

It's disappointing that the Giants organization did not respond to a rather simple request. Considering the influence of Latino ball players in the Giants organization past and present and the large numbers of Latino Giants fans who attend the games and support the team, it's somewhat shameful that the organization chooses to remain silent on the racist Arizona SB1070 legislation.

Posted by Guest Joe on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

Defense will allegedly present his rantings on the Bay Guardian politics blog as evidence at trial.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

Thanks for this article. As a Giants fan, I'm really disappointed to hear that they didn't respond to the community request. It's a terrific idea and incredibly simple for the Giants to take a stand on behalf of not only their immigrant fans, but on behalf of what's right, and make the not-very-radical statement that SB 1070 is messed up. I think it's pretty embarrassing that they didn't even respond. These folks aren't asking for the moon, just that the Giants show some support for their fan base, i.e. Bay Area residents who think the Arizona law is a crock. Since when is it controversial to protest racism - and by something so simple as a uniform - THAT YOU ALREADY WEAR SOMETIMES. It's like Prop 8. Some laws are just wrong, and you don't need an appellate court's opinion to know it's worth voicing your support for people's rights. Major bummer that my favorite team, in its landmark season as World Series champs, isn't standing on the right side of history with the Supes and fans alike. Stuff like this makes me cringe. I'd like the luxury of idolizing my SF Giants, but spinelessness like this is a reminder that in the MLB, it's all about money, not about fans and integrity.

Posted by GigantesFan on Aug. 01, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

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