Friday, July 09, 2021

My Weekend Crush

I know this is one of those things presented as a “feel-good” story or “heartwarming” tales. Sixty years after she wrote to the management of the New York Yankees asking to be a bat girl, and was summarily rejected, a now 70-year-old Gwen Goldman got her wish. She was named honorary bay girl for a game, and threw out the ceremonial first pitch all while wearing her beloved pinstripes. And it’s great, truly. I’m happy for Gwen and her family and everyone involved. The thrill of a lifetime delayed is still a thrill, after all.

But that it was delayed, by six damn decades, just because of her gender was and is just outrageous. That we continue to create barriers to employment, pay, opportunity, accomplishment based on our gender, our race, our sexuality or any of the other traits that divide us (but shouldn’t) is maddening. That we continue to accept these disparities is outrageous. We’ve never had a female U.S. president? Insane. Only four of the current Fortune 500 CEOs are Black? Shameful. It wasn not until earlier this year we saw the first out gay Cabinet member (Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg) and first out transgender federal official (Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine) to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Unacceptable.

Seeing a story like this reminds me of that whole genre of stories meant to pull on the hearstrings, but when you actually think about it they are just pretty sad. Like when a high school science club has to build a disabled grader schooler a wheel chair out of Legos because the kid’s insurance won’t cover a real one. That’s not heartwarming. That’s a society with its priorities horribly askew. We should be demanding that all people have access to equal medical care because wealth shouldn’t determine health. But instead healthcare is a business. Our lives are just ways to make money.

Seeing stories like this is also supposed to remind us how far we have come. But this is not the ancient history we wish it was. Gwen is 70. Ruby Bridges, the first Black child to integrate a white school in the South, is 66. If Martin Luther King were still alive today he would be 92. Hell, Jimmy Carter was born before MLK and is still building houses at age 96. Our history is still very much alive and all around us. The bad old days were not as far away as we pretend. And those same ideological forced keep trying to bring them back (cough, voter suppression, cough) to our present day.

So, as happy as I am for Gwen and all the Gwens of the world who are lucky enough to have a long-standing wrong righted, may we strive to be a better society from the start – invite more people to follow their dreams without having to worry that the arbitrary nature of their gender or race or sexuality or anything else will hold them back. Happy weekend, all.


Helena said...

Thank you for this excellent article and have a great weekend Dorothy. In 1968, shortly after she turned 80, poet Marianne Moore threw the first pitch at the Yankee stadium. So it took a long time to happen again.

Carmen San Diego said...

Well said DS
You put it perfectly