Jim Evans Academy for Professional Umpiring, one of two Umpiring schools with direct relationships to the MLB, lost connections to the league after pictures surfaced regarding racially inappropriate team names at their holiday bowling party. One team was named Klein’s Kleaning Krew and wore cones on their head while another team (comprised of 3 white players and one Hispanic) wore t-shirts that read their team name, Border Patrol. As the story goes, the teams laughed and joked, taking pictures and a few days later their sole Black employee expressed his discomfort over the whole thing.
I don’t really need to say why this whole thing went down the way it did. The MLB did what they had to do to maintain any sort of image, especially considering the diverse population of players they have. Also, this is far from the only case in which I have asked myself why people love photographing/filming things that will only come back to haunt them. What is interesting to me, is that reportedly the black employee was laughing along with the other bowlers. Due to this, the school owner was a bit confused as to how he could then turn around and be offended. It’s interesting to me because laughter is often used by people as an escape or coping mechanism. I think a lot of people have been in situations in which a joke was told and they laughed not because they found the humor, but because they wanted a reprieve from the situation. This isn’t limited to racist/sexist jokes either, although this situation deals with that instance. Imagine, you sole black employee, see your co-workers laughing and having a good time at their team names, one of which is Border Patrol and the other a play on the KKK. You might feel very uncomfortable in that moment, but laughing and bowling along as if everything is fine might be easier for you than causing a scene. Just because a person laughs at a potentially questionable joke/act doesn’t mean they didn’t take offense or feel uncomfortable.