The Unforgivable Blackness of Barry Bonds

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Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images hide caption

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Barry Bonds stands just a few at bats away from breaking Hank Aaron's career home run record. So, naturally, there have been any number of polls like this one and this one that take a snapshot of how people feel about Bonds and the record in light of his alleged steroid use.

This just wouldn't be America if somehow race didn't factor into things. And what jumps out is that blacks tend to be twice as likely as whites to support Bonds' grab for the history books. Going with a New York Times/CBS News poll, 57 percent of blacks are rooting for Bonds to break the record, with only 29 percent of whites showing similar support.

Some people have weighed in with disparate takes on the variance between blacks and whites; if the underlying fundamentals aren't flawed, then the polls in concept are nothing but media race baiting.

Maybe, and maybe.

But I think there's a different take on the divergent approval numbers beyond the simplistic notion that some people of color simply "love Bonds 'cause he's black."

First, we've got to take steroids out of the equation. Bonds has never been found guilty of nor admitted to the knowing use of steroids (key word: knowing). Also, we get to talk to a lot of sports writers on the TV show I appear on, Morning Joe on MSNBC, and to a person they tell us the reason Bonds is so disliked is not because of steroid use. Though he certainly doesn't get a pass for that. Rather, he generates animosity because he's a straight up, uh...jerk. He's a cocky guy with a bad attitude who does not care one thing for being liked, and I think that plays differently with some blacks — some, in this case, being that divergent 28 percent. Why? Because likability has never been an issue with blacks.

From the moment we were first dumped in Jamestown and had our teeth checked before getting sold off and later considered three-fifths of a human being, an abundance of "likability" hasn't been something blacks have had to stockpile. Instead, it's been a centuries-long battle for respectability. That quest has given rise to persons of color who don't even give lip service to the "You like me, you really like me!" mentality. Instead they embrace "unforgivable blackness," the desire to achieve without regard to the concerns of others, black or white.

To be real, I have always admired those who did not give a good golly gosh darn (note, my editor's choice of words) what other people thought about anything. Jack Johnson, Sonny Liston, Sade, Ali, Sammy Davis Jr., Josephine Baker, Adam Clayton Powell . . . Even Dennis Rodman, clown that he was, did as he pleased. All of them — they romanced whom they wanted. Married whoever they liked. Divorced whoever they were married to when the marriage became tiresome. They drank and smoked and sassed backed. Carved their own path. But primarily, they achieved. While most trudge through their days straight-jacketed in the social compact, living for others as much as or more than for themselves, a select few excel.

Let's be very clear: Living "unforgiven" is not the sole domain of blacks. It can be found in any successful person. Successful because they scaled the highest ivory Wall Street tower, no matter the sign hung on the door read, "NEED NOT APPLY." Successful because they've raised a wonderful family despite the fact society said, "You can't marry that person." They, all of them, do it with metaphorical Tommie Smith/John Carlos black-gloved fists raised high in defiance.

How one ultimately feels about Bonds and steroids, I guess, could be reflected in how they feel about James Kirk's solution to the Kobayashi Maru test.

I do believe, however, having learned to live without "likability," some blacks, and before your little push-back fingers get to typing, I stress SOME — perhaps personified in that 28 percent — are predisposed to appreciate the virtue of selfishness when we see it.

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In no way would I compare Barry Bonds to most of the people you listed. In fact, he pales in comparison. Notice I said "most" people, for example: Jack Johnson, Liston, Ali? Come on! Those folks were fighting (figuratively and literally)against unjust powers and laws of the land to the point of been imprisoned at times. So they and some others on your list get my praise for talking the way they wanted too in the face of society's spitefulness.

A few others like Sade. I can't figure out what was so unforgivably black about her; was it because she chose to have a private life in spite of what the press might think of her at the height of her music fame? Dennis Rodman, okay I agree with you that he was (and is) a clown but he did all his antics (coloring his hair, cross-dressing, etc) only because he craved attention. Nobody banned him from the game of basketball because of racism or using his right to freedom of speech or "dressing." And Barry Bonds; Oh Gosh Bonds, just leaves me speechless. I really don't care (ok maybe I care a smidge) he will be breaking a record; records are meant to be broken. But does he have to act like a jerk (though I'm thinking of a more colorful word)? He's not pursuing a record in the face of blatant racism and death threats like Hank Aaron did and with class if I might add and far less money. I don't have a problem with people (black or white) been unforgivable in their persona as long as they have a point; not one as baseless as Bonds.

Sent by Moji | 7:09 PM | 7-25-2007

Thank you! I hadn't thought of it that way, and was at the effect of seeing the situation in terms of victimization, something being done TO Bonds. However, trying on this take on the amazing disparity between black/white opinion, I like it, and see that at work. Thanks again for this wonderful piece.

Sent by mozcram | 3:23 AM | 7-26-2007

Bonds isn't unforgiveably black, he's unforgiveably wearing a Giant uniform. He's a jerk because he plays for a loser team and he's the best man they have, which he obviously knows. It'd be fun to see how much of a primadonna he would be if he played on a team that had other big-name players, like the Yankees. Hank Aaron didn't need steroids to break Babe Ruth's record. We'll probably never know if Bonds did it cleanly but I'm inclined to NOT give him the benefit of the doubt. Because he's black? Hell no! Because he's a Giant. There, is that colorblind enough for ya?

Sent by DODGER fan | 1:36 PM | 7-26-2007

It's true that you cannot compare Bonds to the afformentioned athletes. They were (knowingly or not) fighting for something. Bonds is just another example of over privilaged sports superstars that proliferate and ruin professional sports. Regarding blacks vs white supporting Bonds, it's just a cultural thing just ask OJ.

Sent by Nick Arts | 3:03 PM | 7-26-2007

I had to laugh at your little screed. "Taking steroids out of the equation" where Bonds is concerned is like taking crime out of the equation where Al Capone is concerned. Nobody could ever prove anything -- all they could nail him for was a little tax evasion, right? Give me a break.

Sent by David Morris | 4:50 PM | 7-26-2007

Wow, "some people of color simply "love Bonds 'cause he's black."
= racist,
Jack Johnson, Sonny Liston, Sade, Ali, Sammy Davis Jr., Josephine Baker, Adam Clayton Powell . . . Even Dennis Rodman, clown that he was, did as he pleased. All of them -- they romanced whom they wanted. Married whoever they liked. Divorced whoever they were married to when the marriage became tiresome. They drank and smoked and sassed backed = Praise bad behavior (Why dont you put Michael Vick in there to?)

"no matter the sign hung on the door read, "NEED NOT APPLY." = some how to be a jerk is ok, because we know all white people are racist bigots, and dont want same sex couples to be "married",( "You can't marry that person."). Where did that come from?

This article is nothing more then make whitey feel bad. Make whitey more understanding why black's do bad things. It's not their fault.
Young inner city youth need real hero's with value's not bad influences with excuses.

Sent by tim | 6:24 AM | 7-27-2007

I agree with one of the author's first points and that the whole polling of Bonds support might be a blatant case of race bating, which, it probably is. Even if Barry Bonds was white, I still wouldn't support him primarily because he obviously used steroids and his numbers are highly inflated. Not to mention, he is arrogant and unapologetic. Who peaks physically when they are 37?

I have no problem with individuals who are self-determined but blind arrogance and narcissistic behavior often lead to untoward consequences for both those that are harmed by it and by the individual exercising it.

The historical context is totally different than it was is 1974. While racism is still a problem, I think the media latches on to it and actually contributes to the problem. To be frank, I don't believe most white people go around thinking about race that much unless they are an HR Manager, College Admissions Officer or in competition with minorities for jobs (which is nothing new in this country).

This whole Bonds thing begs the question of how will A-Rod be treated when he approaches the record in the next seven or eight years? Is he being Latino going to be an issue or is he going to be scrutinized and vilified because as he says "because he is good-looking"?

Plain and simple, this isn't a black or white issue this is a moral issue and last time a checked, no one likes cheaters.

Sent by Jereme | 10:12 AM | 7-27-2007

The casual attitude of the media regarding the "power" behind Bond's likely achievement is sadly amazing. As a cycling fan, I think that American sports could learn a lesson from another sport struggling with the issue of doping. As ugly as it has been to watch the Tour de France the past two years, the world could take a lesson from the sport of cycling about what it actually takes to clean up a culture of doping. Baseball is dirty, period. We all know that. Cycling is dirty, period. But cycling is nearly killing itself to clean up. The difference in the actions of those participating in the sport, making money off the marketing, and controling the doping is striking. In cycling, you don't miss a few races if you are under suspicion, you are OUT OF COMPETITION until proven innocent. If guilty, you are suspended for TWO YEARS, not a few games. Perhaps more importantly, if you are found guilty or have the integrity to confess even years later, your name is erased from the record books! (Note the response to Bjarn Riis, and Erik Zabel this year, as they were stripped of wins retroactively) Now, all members of the Pro Tour in cycling will forfeit a years salary for a doping violation of any kind. As I watch Bonds close in on Hank Aaron with the grin of a Cheshire cat, I am amazed. The leader of the Tour de France was just canned by his team for the vagary of avoiding out of competition testing. Now there is an example of "guts" in the world of sport!

Sent by Edward Farrar | 11:42 AM | 7-27-2007

Having watched Barry play ever since his freshman year at ASU (with his dad, Bobby, in the stands for almost every game)I have admired his quiet, determined independence and his extrordinary talent. I couldn't care less if he never sucked up to the "right" sports writers. I don't give him a pass for some of his life mistakes, but nothing but talent can account for the quickness and sureness of his bat to the ball. Regarding the steroid suspicions, who knows what a level playing field is these days? And don't we all get a little thicker as we approach 40? Anyone checked out Junior's measurements lately?

Sent by Dick | 11:43 AM | 7-27-2007

First of all, Bonds and steroids CAN'T be separated because there is abundant and incontrivertible evidence of his having taken steroids, for years, and we can even see how his performance and appearance improved, dramatically, because of them. He can say he didn't know what he was taking, but what else would he say? He's no less guilty than OJ was before his trial, and just like OJ, no verdict would change that fact.
And it's not just a matter of his not caring if we like him or not. He obviously cares very deeply, and is deeply hurt that he's not loved by the public. To me, it's obvious that that's why he tries so hard to pretend he doesn't care.
But all that aside, his "sin" is the same one many blacks suffer from, and n the eyes of whites, it's pure arrogance. To many whites, about the worst thing you can say about a person is that he's too full of himself. Whites, rightly or wrongly, let their actions speak for themselves. If you hit a home run, there's probably no need to call attention to that because chances are everyone in the place just saw you do it. No amount of dancing, prancing, smack-talking, or pointing to God will improve on what you just did. Your actions speak loudly enough, thank you very much. We understand that he "has to be who he has to be", but then whites could say the same thing.
Long before the steroids, he was not exactly a beloved figure, for these exact reasons.

Sent by Joe R. Monroe | 12:05 PM | 7-27-2007

I like the fresh perspective you bring to the Bond's situation, or better yet not Fresh, but underlying.

I have brought this up with many of my friends, co workers, and others and they use the possibility of Bond using steroids to mask their bias. The truth is this larger racial issue is at the forefront of the debate.

Also, Bonds is not exactly a friendly guy or OJ esque (Before he was charged with murder people!!!). Thus, I think America is anything, but supportive for his dogged pursuit to set the new record.

You also present a great question...do African-americans feel that they are entitled to act how they want to in the limelight? Has years of slavery, jim-crow laws, and segregation forced African-americans to show out because their ancestors couldn't.

I would say......hell yea!! I respect Bonds and others for their courage to act and say how they feel. Don't hide who you are, because it eventually comes out. A la OJ....

Sent by Rashid | 3:44 PM | 7-27-2007

Who cares about bonds, he is a cheater who uses steroids and does not deserve to hold the record.

Sent by Joey | 7:58 PM | 7-27-2007

I don't mind that Barry Bond is black or any other race, only thing I don't like about this guy is he cheated in game and thats unforgivable. He doesn't deserve to be where he's at right now.

Sent by Charlie Pat | 8:04 PM | 7-27-2007

Barry Bonds is the best in his job! Whatever the issue is, he deserves credit for his achievements on the field. I support him for reaching this milestone.

Sent by Ravi | 8:15 PM | 7-27-2007

This is America, everything is Black vs. White! That is why we don't describe citizens as Americans. We refer to others by what we see or their ethnicity! Everyone should have pride and be bold regarding their beliefs or characteristics. Keep Black Pride Alive, because everything else is being taken away.

Sent by Alexis Easter | 8:16 PM | 7-27-2007

If one cheats, "BIG DEAL!" Who hasn't or had the thought of...

Sent by Al | 8:16 PM | 7-27-2007

If Babe Ruth didnt pitch during the first 6 yrs of his career he would probably have 1000 homers. Plus he has about 4000 less at bats than Bonds and Aaron, so i think you all know who the real great one is....

Sent by JP | 8:16 PM | 7-27-2007

I also have followed Barry Bonds since college and I saw the quickness of the bat and the strength of his swing way back when. Most of the negative remarks are from people who don't have a clue, am I surprised by the poll not really this is the good old U.S. of A.

Sent by Bill | 8:19 PM | 7-27-2007

I'm white and although Gary and I would never be buds, I respect his racest attitude about whites and take no offense to it. I really don't care if he likes whites or not, I like his baseball talent.

Sent by Petey | 8:19 PM | 7-27-2007

Its articles like this that ag on issues with race. Does it really matter which race voted for him.

Sent by josh | 8:21 PM | 7-27-2007

I think it is sad how "This just wouldn't be America if somehow race didn't factor into things." I could care less about race. I care more about how a record by someone as great as Hank Aaron can be broken by someone like Barry Bonds. Hank Aaron showed great consistancy throughout his years in MLB. What about Barry? Not to great.
Barry has been a good player most years with his great runs spread throughout, especially after his acusation of steriods. To me Hank Aaron will remain the record holder despite Barry's stats. All i hope is that one day someone like A-Rod will break the record so the best can really be the best.

Sent by Kyle Costilow | 8:26 PM | 7-27-2007

As a black man myself, the fact that so many people dislike him, and even hate him, we could say, makes me admire him and what he has done that much more. Bonds is by far one of the most talented players to step onto a baseball field. He of course is not the most talented, but people choose not to remember all of the other amazing stats Barry Bonds has posted in his career, if he never set the single season home run record, or if he missed the career home run record by more than 100 he would still be a lock on the Hall of Fame. People under estimate the pressures we go under as black men in the world, and it is completely fine to me, I dont expect people to understand. So to see anyone beating the odds makes me proud, and if you hate it, then good. No matter how much you whine and complain, it still is what it is. Reminds me of the quote from a movie, "Glory Road" "Advantage, Black Man. For Once!"

Sent by Love4u2HateMe | 8:26 PM | 7-27-2007

I don't really watch baseball anymore. But I do get the impression that American culture remains as racially divisive as it is in part because of media coverage. Take the Duke Lacrosse case, for example, which made national headlines in a way it never otherwise would have when it was marketed in racial terms. Stories like this one that highlight Bonds's "Unforgivable Blackness" perpetuate rather than help Americans come to terms with the unfortunate racism that continues in our culture. Barry is incidentally black, and he is about to break a symbolic record held by a man who is also incidentally black. I do understand why African Americans would cheer on present day acheivement regardless of the person's character, but wasn't character the yardstick for judgement according to Martin Luther King? Instead, you cheer on racial division, apparently for the mere return of a smart-sounding editorial.

Sent by Gabriel Lee | 8:33 PM | 7-27-2007

Color plays no role, Bonds is a cheat and not really a nice guy you want to root for. As far as any poll, far more than 57% of blacks rooted for OJ "the alleged killer".It seems Black society cares very little about right and wrong when it comes to rooting for someone to win or break a record.

Sent by JR | 8:34 PM | 7-27-2007

I am an avid giants fan and the dodger's would love to have a player like bonds on their team, but unfortunatley your gm never signs any impact players of his magnitude. Barry Bonds is the best player of all time if not at least in the top three. how can you hate a man that put so much effort in for an organization that built their nucleus around him.

Sent by BondsFan | 8:36 PM | 7-27-2007

People in the media are ----. You are the main reson why there is problems with race relations. You love to stir things up. Bonds is chasing a black man's record and you still love to bring race into this. Bonds is a hell of a player but I think this whole league is tainted. In the 50's,60's,70's and the 80's if someone had 45 home runs that was one of the highest of the season now it is nothing. I think it is more then steroids the newer parks favor hitters. Also they took a ball from the 50's and a ball now and it is proven that the ball they use now will go much farther when hit. So please don't bring race into this. The media wants whites and blacks to be in conflict they are the enemy the media.

Sent by Joe | 8:39 PM | 7-27-2007

I totally agree with the writer...just as blacks are supporting that thug Mike Vick through his discusting crimes, and OJ back in the day...they will root for Barry, "even if he is bad person"..cuz hes simply black..there is where the racism lies

Sent by gringo99 | 8:44 PM | 7-27-2007

Nobody has proved in a criminal proceeding "beyond a reasonable" doubt that OJ killed Ron and Nicole. Does that meean he didn't kill them??

Bonds is a detached, surly jerk of a human being. He used steroids and his record is tainted.

Compare him to another detached (although not quite as surly and not quite as much of a jerk) and not quite as black (Thai mother) athlete trying to break a long-standing record, Tiger Woods. Tiger has never been suspected of taking steroids (his honor on that issued is above reproach) and has started a multi-million dollar after school program that enables kids to explore their interests among other charitable ventures. Puts Barroid to shame!

Sent by david | 8:45 PM | 7-27-2007

no matter what people think say he going to be da best like he was taught by his dad bc thats where it all begains in the heart and soul he is the best

Sent by Robbie | 8:47 PM | 7-27-2007

I'm all against Bonds but it has nothing to do with racism. He is the racist. He is the one who called out for Babe Ruth's record about 10 years ago during a short interview. It never got blown up, but then again who knew he'd get this far? He called for Ruth, not Aaron, not Mays, but the Babe, why?!...because he's racist himself, along with being a selfish and arrogant cheater who doesn't deserve to be where he's at. All respect to any of the black men on top of the homerun list who earned their numbers, except for Barry. He's a hater and a cheater who went from being the smallest to the biggest player in the MLB. He should be a lineman for the San Francisco 49ers instead. P.S. He's always been jealous of Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr.

Sent by Rich | 8:49 PM | 7-27-2007

I like the fact this was more about how people's perpectives are rather than the reasons other percieve for their actions, being a monirity myself I can understand the likability factor being more of a luxury in our society. I read some of the replies to your article and can't help but judge some of the more negative replies as being from caucasian people, reverse racism, could be, conditioning, sounds more like it. No matter where you grow up, how many homeless misdirected kids you help get back "in line" if you're not the wrong color of skin, you'll probably never see the world behind the wrong color eyes either.

Sent by R. Garcia | 8:50 PM | 7-27-2007

In a game where steroid use is obviously (lets be real - OBVIOUSLY) very prevalent, Barry Bonds is still the best. Whether it be the best of the steroid users (baseball players) or the best without steroids he will still make history as the best. How is it racist to cheer on a member of an underprivileged race with whom you identify because you have dealt with similar issues. Go get that record Barry - proud of yur acheivement and even prouder because you're black.

Sent by Adia | 8:51 PM | 7-27-2007

barry bonds is a filthy cheater and nobody white or black should hope that he breaks the home run record. *not racist*

Sent by METS FAN | 8:53 PM | 7-27-2007

I got as far as when "we were first dumped in jamestown", get a grip. Less than 5% of blacks can trace their ancestors to there. Stop the madness.

Sent by Rob Collard | 8:55 PM | 7-27-2007

I don't recognize Mark Mcguires record either, and he is a big white guy who used steroids.

Sent by mike | 8:59 PM | 7-27-2007

run the same poll on mark mcguire,canseco,palmiero,mantle,clemensetc.that would be interesting.

Sent by james mullan | 9:00 PM | 7-27-2007

Its not about being Black, its about being a Dirty -- Get it now??

Sent by Jim | 9:03 PM | 7-27-2007

Taking steriods out of the equation is taking the meat out of the hamburger. I don't think Barry used steriods, I know. How do I know, the same reason that I know sumo wrestlers eat a lot of food. I've never seen them but look at their bodies. It doesn't take a test to prove that. I'm sure that some people dislike Bonds because he is black and that is a shame and racist, but no more of a shame or race driven than somebody wanting him to break the record because he is black. I think that if Barry would admit to steriod use and apologize, a lot of his problems would go away. Unitl then, BOO Barry. One more thing, when talking about the slave era, don't use the word we unless you were there.

Sent by Todd | 9:04 PM | 7-27-2007

This is definitely media race baiting.

....But it doesn't work in this case.

Last time I checked, Hank Aaron is black. So, if the race angle "must" be thrown into the mix, One would consider the fact that Hank broke the record that belonged to a white baseball player.

The media's insidious tactic could possibly be applicable IF Bonds was about to break the record belonging to a white ball player.

Hank will always be a legend for blacks. He will also remain a legend for people of all other races. Regardless of Bonds breaking Hank's record.

Unfortunately, Bonds' reputation and his alleged steroid use will remain lengendary.

Sent by kC | 9:07 PM | 7-27-2007

Whites love cheaters as long as they're white cheaters? Tell that to Pete Rose. Pete did it all on the field but was stripped of everything because of moral failures and tarnishing the game. Bonds should suffer the same fate, and NOT because he is black. Because he is a cheater and an effront to the men who blazed the trail he is now so selfishly trashing.

Sent by Steve | 9:10 PM | 7-27-2007

I am tired of all the racial dicrimination against barry. Its for sure a racial issue because once McGuire surpassed Roger Marris's single season homerun there was no big deal on how he used steroids. I really think fans are still living in the past, and need to get over the whole race thing. MOre than 50% of MLB players have been or have taken steroids before, but now because Barry is surpassing the Homerun record the media needs to jump all over him... I think its a bunch of BS. Recognize Barry for his talant, and stop this whole racial issue thing.

Sent by DAVID | 9:10 PM | 7-27-2007

I only have one thing to say, last time i looked Hank Aaron was black, so why would it matter to white people if another black man beats that record. It is simply becouse we do not like Barry Bonds. If Ryan Howard where to beat this recored most people would not care because he is a classie guy who cares about the people that pay his bills.

Sent by Dave H | 9:11 PM | 7-27-2007

"Take steroids out of the equation?" I agree with the previous poster. How can you possibly do that? For me, I think it would be a crime to wipe out Aaron's record. Aaron pursued the record CLEANLY with dogged determination, class, dignity and integrity. He also did it his way....not bowing to pressure that he say this or not say that when speaking in public. But the bottomline for me is that Aaron DIDN'T cheat to achieve what he did. Can't people respect what someone did the right way (meaning NO cheating), and defend that achievement? Last I checked Aaron is African American too.

In my mind here's how I think race may play into it....some African Americans see Bonds as a strong outspoken black man in a 'white world.' They respect him more for being an unapologetic, "stick it to the man" type of persona, than they despise him for being an "alleged" cheater. Unfortunately I think their embrace of Bonds denegrates the legacy and achievement of Aaron.

Also, why do people say Barry "allegedly" took steroids? He admitted to taking the Clear and the Cream in his Grand Jury testimony. Two substances that were proven to be designer steroids. Some people (mostly Giants fans) can quibble over whether Barry "knowingly" took steroids (Bonds claims he thought they were 'flaxseed oil.' Funny thing is???in the book "Game of Shadows" they had e-mail correspondence from Victor Conte in which he told his clients well before Barry made this statement, "If you get caught with the Cream or the Clear???.just tell people you thought it was flaxseed oil." Obviously Barry followed Conte's game plan to a T) Or maybe Barry just thought that your hat size increasing two sizes, shoes going up one size, a mountain of acne on your back???were all the result of a drop of flaxseed oil being placed under your tongue. Keep in mind you budding statisticians out there....Bonds' career average for home runs was 33 a year up to 2001 (15 seasons). In 2001, where there is clear evidence he took steroids he hit 73 home runs. And that total was muted because of the record amount of intentional walks he received that season. Anyone want to hazard a guess what the statistical probability is that the 73 HR season was legit?

Barry will eek out a few more homers, break the record, Giants fans will be in diluted hysteria and the majority of the baseball world will just say, "so what???..he cheated." Personally I want Bonds to break the record against the Dodgers. Then when they replay that moment from now until whenever??? people will hear a deafening amount of boos raining down on him. That will juxtapose nicely with the image of Hammering Hank trotting around the bases after he LEGITIMATELY broke the record, awash in cheers and baseball fan adoration. Dodger fans???and those fans at other ball parks will give Barry the celebration he deserves....a chorus of boos. It will serve as a nice reminder of how people can cheat, but it doesn't mean folks are stupid enough to buy the lies or to like what's happening in a sport they love.

Sent by Todd | 9:14 PM | 7-27-2007

I don't care what color Barry Bonds is and I don't care he used steroids. I hope he breaks it, but I really don't think race plays a part of this because Hank was black too so what. Who cares it is people like you who try and make this about race. Racism is only around because of the narrow headed people who cling to the thoughts of a time that has passed. Quit talking about race!

Sent by Tyrone Williams | 9:16 PM | 7-27-2007

Bonds is going to break the record. It's not like he can't hit 3 more homeruns. So, it's a little too late to say, "I hope he doesn't break the record." As far as liking it, that's another story. I dislike Bonds. Not because I'm white and he's black. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Hank Aaron is black. It's not like Bond's is breaking the record of some white guy and therefore whites are against him for that. The fact is, most people agree that Bonds is an First Class JERK!!! That's the clean version of what I think of him. In addition, most people strongly suspect that he used Steroids, which not only is against league rules, it's against the law last time I checked. Breaking a record of any type while using Steroids is an abolute abomination. If he did use Steroids, and I were Hank Aaron, I'd be sick. But, we don't have hard evidence on the Steroid use. But, Steroids aside, the fact that he's, without a doubt, the biggest jerk in baseball is reason enough to pull against him. So, I hate to see Bonds break the record. But hopefully, Griffey, Jr. or A-Rod will pass Bonds before all is said and done. Oh, and by the way, Griffey is black and A-Rod is Latino and I'm still white.

Sent by B.Smith | 9:16 PM | 7-27-2007

If Barry Bonds was white there would be
issue about steroids and/or his attitude. Everything would be overlooked by the media and white america.
Last year Derek Jeter lost the American League MVP when he had good numbers that were not inflated by roids. He lost because he is half-Black and dates
white models and movie stars.
Who are we kidding. Race is everything in this crazy country.

Sent by Vaughn | 9:20 PM | 7-27-2007

You also present a great question...do African-americans feel that they are entitled to act how they want to in the limelight? Has years of slavery, jim-crow laws, and segregation forced African-americans to show out because their ancestors couldn't.

I would say......hell yea!! I respect Bonds and others for their courage to act and say how they feel. Don't hide who you are, because it eventually comes out. A la OJ....

WOW you are a racist numb nutt And I mean that with all my heart Get real...most...and I do mean most...Americans, black or white can care less. It is the media and stupid people as yourself that makes this out to be a racial issue...HEY STUPID PEOPLE...HANK AARON IS BLACK. WOW Why are we even having this conversation. Really proving the racial stupidity of the media and the people that believes the crap they spew...Hey Instead of JET Magazine, how about Cracker MAG...BET...How about WET.... You see the media is out to profit from stupidity, and you are only suplimenting it....WOW if I wasn't drunk I would try spell check

Sent by WHITEY | 9:22 PM | 7-27-2007

I think racism is still a sad reality in this country.
I could care less about Bond, all I see is spoiled over paid players regardless of color. We have homeless kids living in the street and we throw millions at these guys. I no longer buy products from any sport that doesnt give back to the community. Where are the future Jackie robinsons, Roberto clementes? and why are teachers, police and military so underpaid and ill equiped?

Sent by eddy gomez | 9:23 PM | 7-27-2007

I just look at Barry Bond and I can tell what a titanic effort it took for this man to be what he is. He bravely fought his war, and I find it shameful that America tries to diminish it. I am a Polish-American.

Sent by george szejner | 9:31 PM | 7-27-2007

Why does this Baseball Commissioner constantly, consistently, consecutively let players beat records then interiogate them? Who holds the comish responsible and accountable for players consistently using technology and science to damage history and the hard working hero's that wrote it with character and class. Unfortunately this falls under the idea of evolution. The stupid theory they teach are kids in school. Steroids and all the garbage used now are just a platform for drugs that are yet to come. When the Pharmecutical companies discover that super human hybrid synthetic chemical combination and send lobbyist to capital hill. We haven't seen anything yet. Why do fans care if atheletes use Drugs to do there jobs. We pay $100 dollars and sit for hours to watch them and I would like to see a few more homeruns in a game. How many people at your work use drugs to do their job. Compare your cup of coffee or cigarette to Barry using steroids and theres really no difference except what the goverment and society has told us which chemicals are moral and which are not. Yet both mind and body altering. How many prescription drugs does our goverment release to market ANNUALLY that kills people. DRUGS should be listed as a commodity. Think about all the processed food and the Chemicals or drugs in them. Most employers supply their workers with drugs "Coffee", its ok because it encourages generating revenue. I could argue Oxygen is no difference a drug than heroin, no I would have to hire a lawyer to do it but it could be done. The unfortunate Truth is that Barry Bonds will be remebered by the future as a pioneer in the science of sports. In the 80's I use to feel some what connected to professional atheletes. Now they make me sick. If my family is gonna pay $200 bucks for entertainment to watch poor sportsmanship, unclassy, trashy disrespectful men in a circus. Well Im a diehard fan of American Sports I wont take my family but I still catch a game with the fellas. I believe in Character, Class, Common Sense, Common Courtesy and DRUGS. The average American has absolutely no idea the amounts of chemicals or "drugs" we consume daily.

Sent by FRE | 9:40 PM | 7-27-2007

Black and white people will never see eye to eye on issues of race, because black and white people have always been on opposing sides of racial issues since the founding of this country. Therefore, Barry, OJ, Mike Vick, and any other black person who gets in trouble, will always be villified by whites, and praised by blacks. It does amaze me, however, how white people can convict the three people I mentioned, even though NONE of the three have been convicted of anything in a court of law. Are white folks saying that the system is favoring blacks??? The same system that has subjugated black people for over 400 years??? Are you kidding me???

Sent by Kevin | 9:41 PM | 7-27-2007

After having read through some of these comments from obviously biased (Dodger Fan and Joe R. Monroe) opinions, I will offer mine.

Let's deal in facts, because right now because those are the most concrete signs of guilt or innocence according to the American Justice System and to our Constitution.

1. Bonds has not yet tested positive for a performance enhancing substance. Say what you want, you may not accept this, but it is the fact.

2. Steroids are a major league baseball problem. Whether or not Bud Selig is responsible for letting it slide, I can't say, but Major League Baseball has known for a long time that this has gone on and has refused to do anything about it. If you want to continue to crucify Bonds, then be willing to voice your distaste with any other players, including players on YOUR favorite team.

3. Bonds IS NOT a good guy. That is a fact. He is a jerk. Personally, I don't care, even though the above is true. My problem is with all of these so-called geniuses who want to hang Bonds for using steroids when he has not tested positive, nor has he been indicted on anything, yet many people want to hang him out to dry because they are afraid to admit that they JUST DON'T LIKE HIM. If this is you, FREAKIN' GET OVER IT. You may not like how he acts, but that doesn't mean you need to try to dig to hang him for something else. I would far more respect people for saying, "I don't want him to break the record because I think his attitude stinks." That is more honest. The truth is that many people don't like him because they think he is a jerk, so they justify that by saying, "oh, well he used steroids." As if they had proof.

Now he may very well have used steroids, but since I am reserving judgment for when there is a positive test, I don't know. If you really think he is a cheater and used, then start looking at people like A-Rod, Pujols, and the other sluggers who are ripping home runs out of the park left and right. People need to stop acting like Bonds is the only one using steroids in the League, just because they don't like his attitude or because he is a black man.

a white man in Portland, OR

Sent by Rick | 9:43 PM | 7-27-2007

POLITICS that all it is it not black or white it is about the way society has put a lable on this. Not until kids started using that junk and died that we cared.

Sent by marcel james | 9:51 PM | 7-27-2007

Just looking at some of the comments here...it's pretty hard to miss that peculiar but familiar theme.

Perfect example: the Vick media "lynching"...the sports media (mainly white males)and opinionated white masses, influenced by these folks have already (like Bonds) convicted him before the trial.
Meanwhile, in coverage of criminal allegations and investigation of Tim Donagy, the point-shaving ref...you see none of the self-righteous hyperbole or moral indignation by those same folks.

It's pretty obvious to me that the gatekeepers of the media go after black athletes who have less than admirable behaviors in a peculiar but familiar way...but of course, it works to give the masses someone to point their collective finger at...providing a diversion from the real degradation and corruption in this country that is too real for most to grasp.

And as much as some here try to justify their personal biases and prejudices with sophistic references to morality and the sanctity of the game..that's complete baloney. Babe Ruth was a drunk and womanizer...Ty Cobb was a racist bastard...I could go on but your veiled inferences and biased opinions are pretty self-explanatory.

Sent by Felipe C. Machado | 9:55 PM | 7-27-2007

Well lets keep it real for just a minute. Look at all the drug use in pro sports today. You even have some of these guys dying from drug use. When Mark Mcguire was doing his thing there wasn't a lot said in the way of bashing. This is the USA, a country that was built on the CAD system. For those that don't know what that is, its putting power and priority in order of race; something that is still going on today. What I do as a young black man in 2007 is take that and use it as away to motivate me to push harder and do what is not expected of me. I feel that Bonds is using that to fuel his hunger for his goal. I take nothing from no man, I only give thanks that in my lifetime I will have lived to see a new record be set.

Sent by Anthony Coleman | 9:56 PM | 7-27-2007

Mark McGwire is white and I despise him more than Bonds. Contrary to what a black friend of mine thinks, it is not because he is white and I expect more from him. The reason is because at one time I admired McGwire because I thought he was everything good about baseball. On the contrary, I know 2 people who played with Bonds in Pitt and only a few people on the team could even carry on a conversation with that nut job.

Also, I think it is funny how some black people say they are pulling for him because he is black and he "represents" us. As a white boy from South Carolina, I could probably relate to most black people better than Bonds. He grew up with a silver spoon and doesn't care about others(black or white).

Sent by Jim | 10:03 PM | 7-27-2007

Joreme says, "who peaks at 37 years old?" Uh hum, Babe Ruth hit his most home runs (60) at age 32.... Charlie Pat says Bonds cheated and thats unforgivable; I'll just say -Gaylord Perry..... Joe R. Monroe says Bonds is "no less guilty than OJ." Wow, now Bonds is as bad as a murderer; thats how typical racists see a black guy that scares them because he won't bow down to the establishment!
If you add up all of the times Bonds was intentionally walked, it would equal 4 full seasons!!!
Barry, Barry, Barry.... I'll be there to watch history in the making!

Sent by Audrey Davis | 10:05 PM | 7-27-2007

How enlightening. Isn't NPR phenominal. I think we all need to look in the mirror and understand how others feel. Mr. Bonds has risen above this classist, sexist, racist culture to achieve so much and it's a shame these privelaged white males can't get beyond it.

Sent by S. O. Squichee | 10:22 PM | 7-27-2007

I dont like Bonds, never have since he came into the majors. However having said that it really doesnt matter whether I like him or whether Joe down the street likes him or Clarence across the city likes him. And you know what, Bonds could care less whether I like him or not.

I have read the above comments and to tell you the truth I am quite beside myself. To turn this whole Bonds breaking a record into a racial issue is one a travisty to the game and everyone that has played it and two an insult to Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and any other black player that has broken that racial barrier so that Barry can stand at that home plate and only play for himself.

Do I think Barry has cheated to get ahead of the game, sure but really who hasn't in any professional sport done something to get the edge? That is the real question that we all should be asking, should Barry be ostersized because he cheated? Ask yourself this, how many that do hold records baseball and others alike did it without any help? I bet not one on any list if they where alive today could say that they did it all on thier own blood, sweat and tears. I am for certain that it took blood sweat and tears and then some to get the leading edge to put them in the position to reach and surpass the record.

So the fact that Barry isnt liked well by anyone, black, white, hispanic, who ever, is really a mute point. However his additude, behavior and actions are reflected onto the younger generations. If I could write to Barry and say anything to him, I would ask if he could just give a little thought to what the kids think about him, hero or havoc. I am sure for some they would look to him as a hero because kids dont really get invovled into the politics and antics of sports, they just see someone that is on the verge of doing something great and they are amazed by it. Kids dont care whether Barry did it on his own or if his trainer was slipping him something into his tea. They just see him as a great player. Now if the kids that stood in line for over 4 hours for an autograph and he told them all to piss off then that is where the story may change a bit.

Other than being an --- to his teammates and the media and the fans and pretty much anyone his doesnt know personally, what is he really guilty of doing?

From what I am gathering Barry's only crime is him not being "friendly" Everyone else is making this out to become a racial issue. He isn't doing anything for the black community, he is doing this all for himself. I dont see Barry saying down with whitey and shouting out anti-sematic slogans or holding up signs to the reference of NAACP all the way! Barry is just doing what is does best, being an --- and swinging the bat, if it goes over the wall great for him if not well then he is not any closer to the record. I just dont see Barry holding press conferences and blaming whitey for him not knocking any home runs that game. This is not a racial issue no matter how you slice it. If Barry isnt making it a racial issue, then why should anyone else?

To comment on whether his name should have asterisks next to all the records in my opinion if his name is in a record book then it should be in the record book without conditions, period! I agree records are made to be broken and if the baseball commissioner feels that any feat should be honored in the record book then it should be done regardless of the conditions that surround the player that broke the record. Either put it in there or dont.

So in closing, Barry keep being an --- and keep swinging and if you break that record good for you and if you dont what kind I say you threw everything you had at it and it just slipped away.

Sent by Just another white man's opinion, AKA Jerry from Missouri | 10:37 PM | 7-27-2007

Its the old story: people love to build you up, just to tear you back down. Barry Bonds was always an amazing baseball player, it's in his pedigree. His incredible body of work goes way beyond just these last few years. People forget that. In their quest to villify him, they forget to appreciate his longevity and proficient productivity.

As far as him being "unforgivably black", I don't know what the hell that even means, as if blacks have a monopoly on rude and offensive behavior.

If you dig into anyone's character deep enough you'll find flaws. Our collective gut reactions to the subject of race is proof of that. People tend to side with their own race, no matter what the moral delimma is. How do we change those gut reactions, or the swift passionate judgments we make? I truly don't know, butit is these judgments that most people live their lives by.

Sent by Sharp | 10:43 PM | 7-27-2007

WHat a weak weak article. Yeah, Barry Binds is dislike because of his blackness. And he gets a pass for being a jerk because he's black too. Barry bonds didnt get "dropped off in jamestown". What a fool. I swear, a black person cannot be held accountable for a damn thing they do because there are 100 million fools ready to make an excuse for them. How counter productive for your own race. How sad it is to teach those coming up that doing things the morally wrong way can be justifies with just the right amount of racial spin. Sad and pathetic people make excuses. That seems to be the theme of this article. Excuses.

Sent by keezy | 11:31 PM | 7-27-2007

Looking at many of the posts it's sad to see that our country will be hard pressed to get over the race issue in my lifetime (I'm 42 by the way). Some more thoughts/comments...not that I have much hope that it will change anyone's mind here.

1) More than a few posters mention that Bonds hasn't taken steroids because he never failed a drug test. I will state again....for the record...Bonds admitted in his Grand Jury testimony to taking the Cream and the Clear. Both proven steroids. His excuse was that he didn't knowingly take steroids, he thought they were "flaxseed oil."
2) As for Michael Vick, I agree with the league that he should take a leave of absence with pay until the legal matter is resolved. He received a federal indictment so it's not like the league is doing this blindly. If they suspended him without pay it would be tantamount to declaring him guilty before his trial. I just shake my head at the protesters who want him banned for life from the sport before his case goes to trial. That is un American no matter how you cut it.
3) Some posters have suggested that if Bonds were white that America as a whole would just clasp hands and welcome the new home run King. Yeah right. Just as Mark McGuire is welcomed as a hero these days. Back when he and Sosa were in a duel for the record there were whispers but no smoking gun like the whole Balco deal. But when people started to learn more about "Big Mac" they realized that he was a cheat. It was outlined in Canseco's book and in other information that got out after that "miracle season." Then his infamous testimony before Congress. McGuire was skewered by Congress, by the media and by the vast majority of baseball fans (outside of St. Louis I suspect). He is dead man walking as far as baseball is concerned, AS HE SHOULD BE. Same for Pete Rose. No one outside of Cincinatti is building any statues for Rose. Palmeiro suffered a similar fate. Sousa is trying to redeem himself after his roid allegations and also his altered bat. As for the crooked white ref in the NBA...he not only is toast in his current profession he is being blamed by many to be the nail in the coffin of the NBA. This guy and his family are getting numerous death threats...and not just from the mob. I don't agree with the death threat angle...but all the other condemnation and anger is wholey appropriate. Bottomline....MOST Americans don't like cheaters regardless of race, religion or anything else.

With that said, many fans will still turn a blind eye to the misdeeds of their own. In sports...fans do this...and as crazy as it seems to outsiders we have to understand that the term "fan" is derived from the word fanatic. But what I am seeing in our society today is that our "teams" are becomming more broad and we folks are becomming entrenched in the "us vs. them" mentality. Republicans versus Democrats, Conservatives versus Liberals, Black versus White, Gay versus straight...unfortunately the real battle should just be waged between Right versus Wrong, period. It also seems to me that people feel that they can't admit that someone from their team is dirty (Tom Delay, William Jefferson, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, Nebraska's Christian Peters etc.) maybe because they feel that admission would be like saying they are just as bad/evil/dishonest as that person because they supported them or still support their team, or basically that it's an indictment on their whole "team." Maybe we have been so acustomed lately to American politics playing out as a scorched earth, winner take all, battle to the death contest. It used to be sensible people would say, "hey there is something greater at stake here than just being loyal to 'our' guy." Older, now retired politicians from both parties have commented that there used to be greater civility in politics and a greater respect for the people accross the aisle. You may disagree with folks from the other party but you still respected them and saw that they also wanted what's best for the country, just that they had a different plan for acheiving their vision. I guess what my rambling diatribe is trying to say is that, as a country, and as a people, we need to start ignoring affiliations and just look at actions and behaviors from the stand point of "is that thing they did right or wrong?" Until we start adopting that mindset to a greater extent we will find ourselves further apart, more polarized and isolated. The truth of the matter is that the real enemy is not each other...it's others who want to harm all of us. Our preoccupation with race means nothing to them...they'd like to see all Americans dead. Yeah yeah...I know...you now think I am some staunch supporter of the war...but I'm not. In my mind it was a terrible idea to invade Iraq...doing more harm than good to our country. But with that said, it's a given that there are lots of people who want us dead. Not because we are a country that allows black men to marry white women...but because our women aren't covered head to toe, and they drive, vote, attend universities, etc.

So, I doubt the folks on this blog will ever see eye to eye on race relations let alone Barry Bonds...but we need to try to find some way for both sides to judge peoples' misdeeds objectively and to praise others for their accomplishments universally if they are good people accomplishing good things.

One glaring example was the federal judge presiding over the Scooter Libby trial. He is a Republican, was appointed not long ago by President Bush....but he set all that aside and looked at the facts of the case and the law and made a decision that was based on those two issues and those issues alone. You may not like the outcome of that trial (especially if your on the Republicam "team") but I don't know how someone couldn't admire the principles of that judge. His sentencing upset members of his party and most notably...the guy who gave him his current job.

I don't ever want to teach my kids that it's ok for people on "our team" to lie, cheat and steal...but not ok for folks on the other team to do the same. Objectivity is hard to achieve, especially being human beings...but we need to try.

One last comment....Bonds is not as bad as a murderer...not even close....but he's not as righteous as Aaron either....not even close.

Sent by Todd (Bay area pariah) | 5:17 AM | 7-28-2007

If you think for a moment that our hesitancy in celebrating Barry's accomplishment has anything to do w his race, you've not been paying attention to this story. Barry Bonds will undoubtedly be credited w hitting more home runs than Hammerin Hank, and soon. But our lack of praise stems not from his dark skin, but his dark past.
While the allegations remain unproven in the legal arenas, in the court of public opinion, the verdict's been rendered.
But let's be fair. If we feel this offended by Bonds, we must snub the likes of Sosa, McGuire, Giambi and, presumably, countless others. I'm sorry for baseball, not Barry.

Sent by Buddy Davis, MS, PA-C | 6:34 PM | 7-28-2007

Barry is roided up and i bet the Babe wasn't clean when he was hitting his runs. There were no real tests in those days. Was there still that Columbian additive in the Cola? Drugs in sport is always going to be there but this isn't racism.

Hank was THE MAN. He had to look out for snipers when he took to the plate.

Bonds is hitting them big but I guess he's just too damned old to cut the mustard.

A typical late 20th Century sports star...from Ben Johnson to Diego Maradona in USA 94.

Those guys look pretty washed up now they've dried out...wonder how Bonds will look in a couple of decades.

Bad times my friends across the ocean, bad times.

Say high to my Prime Minister for me.

Out of Iraq by the summer!

Sent by Omar Ibrahim: Glasgow, Scotland | 6:14 AM | 7-30-2007

I agree with the assertion that alot of black people can identify and respect a 'don't give a damn what you think attitude'. I believe alot of right-winger whites seem to admire that same attitude in the bush administration. However, I'm wondering what's your take on the aversion alot of blacks have towards Kobe,despite his unquestionable ability and acheivements.

Sent by !ngrid | 11:19 AM | 7-31-2007

Ingrid,

What we have against Kobe is because he threw his teammates under the bus. He was charged with a crime not his teammates. He was the only one in that Colorado hotel room with that lady. So he should have taken the responsibility of committing only the act of adultery as he said and not put his other teammates on the line especially one "big" former teammate who reportedly have done the same thing.

Imagine having to be in the same locker room with such a cry baby. He drove the "Zen Master" (his coach Phil Jackson) to the therapist couch. Most blacks have tremendous respect for Kobe as a player; as a person, not so much.

Sent by Moji | 10:38 AM | 8-2-2007

To the guy by the name Vaughn that posted on 07/27/2007. That has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. I am a white male and i say congrats to Jeter for dating white ladies. Anyone who thinks he did not get the mvp becouse of this is should not even be aloud to post on this colume.

Sent by Dave H | 12:10 PM | 8-28-2007