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MILWAUKEE — The game, a 7-4 loss to the Brewers, was over, and Jon Duplantier had finished dissecting his outing — “inconsistent” was the word he used — for the media on a Zoom interview when he asked if he could share some thoughts about another topic.
D-backs television analyst Bob Brenly had been in the news for a comment he made about Mets starter Marcus Stroman’s du-rag during the broadcast of Tuesday night’s game between the D-backs and Mets.
Brenly issued an apology the next day, and then Thursday he announced he was going to undergo sensitivity training and would step away from the broadcasts for a week.
Duplantier, who is African-American, wanted to explain his view of the comment.
“I’m disappointed by the comment, you know,” Duplantier said. “I’m very proud to wear this ‘A’ on my chest. And, for somebody who is a co-worker in any capacity to make comments like that, that are racially insensitive and culturally insensitive, is disappointing to me.”
Duplantier wanted people to understand why he felt it was disappointing.
“From my viewpoint, growing up where I did in the suburbs, playing baseball as a Black man in America, as a Black kid in America, there has been a lot of pressure for me to show up authentically as myself, while walking the tightrope of remaining acceptable and appealing to society and people who may be making important decisions regarding my future,” Duplantier said. “There’s been a lot of progress in that regard. Personally, I feel like I’m grown now, and if there’s something that in my heart I feel like I want to do and be myself and this is what I’m going to be, then I’m going to do it.
“Marcus Stroman has been the epitome of showing up authentically as himself, and he’s been a role model not only for me and a bunch of other players in this league, but for a bunch of young men across the country who battle, and will continue to battle, with the same battles that I have had growing up and, shoot, to this day.”
For Duplantier, the key is how the comments might be taken by young people playing baseball.
“The most disappointing part is that though there has been a ton of progress and work done, so that I, Marcus and other guys that look like me can show up authentically as ourselves, and be ourselves on a big stage, comments like the one that was made, they put us back,” Duplantier said. “The youth, the future ballplayers that are coming up that are watching Diamondbacks games or watching Mets games or watching MLB games in general, by hearing that comment, potentially look at baseball and think that they can’t be themselves.
“And that hurts. I mean, shoot, I want to be a dad someday. And so, knowing that the work that is continuing to be done so that my kids — my son, my daughter — will grow up knowing that they can be authentically themselves, it hurts when comments are made that potentially hurt that. Again, I’m very proud to wear this Diamondback ‘A,’ and I know that the organization’s heart is in the right place.”
Duplantier gave Brenly credit for deciding to go to sensitivity training and he doesn’t want the focus strictly to be on Brenly or the comment, but rather the issue as a whole.
“The work is never done,” Duplantier said. “So I think going to the training and getting education is very important, and is a good step, you know. This isn’t strictly a one-sided issue. There are comments coming from everybody, every culture, every race, every ethnicity, however you want to word it, that affect other people. So, just as people, we all need to continue to be cognizant of what we are saying and how it could potentially affect others.
“Because I recognize that the way I viewed the comment is very different than how a lot of people view the comment. And that’s just based on past experiences, life experiences. So continuing to listen to one another with an open ear and open heart is very important. And so I appreciate Bob’s willingness to go to the training, and I hope that we see some changes.”
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