Yesterday, Purple Row participated in a nationwide movement called Black Out Tuesday. Following the lead of many in the theater and music industry, many sports and other entertainment-related websites, as well as people on their personal accounts, chose to have their sites and social media accounts go dark with no posts or comments. This was meant as a gesture of solidarity with those who are peacefully protesting for Black lives and to amplify (or at the very least not distract or drown out) organizers at the head of those movements. These efforts were largely gathered under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused.
We, the Purple Row editors, wanted to take this opportunity to share with our readers the process that went into making the decision to join Black Out Tuesday and to address some concerns we received. It is our hope any further discussion of this matter can be done in a way that is respectful and compassionate.
On participating in Black Out Tuesday
The Black Out Tuesday movement was brought to the attention of the Purple Row editorial team on Monday night when we received word that Amazin Avenue, the New York Mets SB Nation site, was planning on following the lead of the music and theater industry and blacking out their site. The editors were unanimous in our support of such an action and spent a lot of time discussing the best way to go about it. There was no top-down directive or even suggestion from Vox Media or SB Nation.
We worked together to craft the content of our post and decided to close the comments in addition to holding any pending posts until Wednesday. Closing the comments was done in an effort not to shut down conversation but to divert conversation away from the site on a day that was meant to focus on amplifying the voices of those protesting for justice for Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, to stop posting our own content so people might focus on justice matters, and not partisan infighting or debates about riots.
On Tuesday, as more SB Nation sites joined the Black Out, we also saw MLB teams and owners, including the Rockies, release statements via social media addressing the protests in their cities and the ongoing nature of systemic racism and police brutality. From there, players poured in their support as well, including Yency Almonte (link), Ian Desmond (link), Scott Oberg (link), and Trevor Story (link). Had we not participated to start the day, this level of participation at the team and player level would have necessitated at least a response.
We would like to say on the onset that we appreciate those who supported this decision. We also received some pushback from our readers and followers on Twitter that we’d like to address here.
On political statements
Recently, we made the decision to add a note to the end of all Rockpiles with the intention to limit discussion to baseball topics. This was in response to a coronavirus-related link the the Rockpile that provoked a political discussion that included language and conduct that violated SB Nation Community Guidelines as well as some Purple Row specific guidelines. The most expedient way to communicate this was to limit any and all political discussion that was not directly related to baseball. (You can see Sam’s post on the matter here.)
We received several comments, both in the comments of articles that were mistakenly not closed and in the Purple Row twitter account’s mentions, accusing us of hypocrisy for participating in Black Out Tuesday after placing a moratorium on political discussions. That is a charge we must take to heart, and, in hindsight, the ban on political discussions may have been too blunt an instrument to bring our community guidelines back into focus.
At the same time, we believe that justice should not be a partisan issue. The editors hold political views that range across the ideological spectrum on a variety of issues. Our decision to participate in Black Out Tuesday was made not on partisanship but against the backdrop of five straight nights of protests in Denver that included several instances of violent confrontations between police and protestors. It was made against the backdrop of three national news stories over the last three weeks of the unjust killings of Black individuals. It was made after several articles were postponed from writing or publishing because they felt insignificant in light of the widespread unrest in our city and nation. It was made against the backdrop of the fear, grief, and anger we saw in the lives of Black people we each know and love.
We noticed that some who objected to our statement primarily objected to our inclusion of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. While there is an organization that goes by the name “Black Lives Matter” and they have political (and often partisan) activities and goals, it is important to consider that the hashtag represents more than just that organization. The Movement for Black Lives is about fighting for the dignity and full equality of African-Americans who frequently find themselves on the short end of the stick in various sectors of society. (If you would like more information about this, please contact Adam Peterson on Twitter, @playerTBNL). But we will defer to the words of an actual Major League Baseball player as to why the statement is important.
On “Virtue Signaling”
The editors made the decision to show solidarity with something that should rise above partisan politics: crying out for justice to flow like a river, and against those who would cast righteousness to the ground. We made this decision knowing that some would disagree with or misinterpret the statement or the motives behind it.
There are plenty of people who make statements that are “intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.” How much of a problem one believes this to be surely varies from person to person. But that does not mean that the sentiments expressed are inauthentic. One person cannot possibly know the full motives of another (or, often, even of themselves). We may be guilty of virtue signaling, but to focus on that charge to the exclusion of the substance of the supposed signaling is to miss the point entirely. And that point is to advocate for justice for Amaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd and to advocate for change that will lead to fewer Black people becoming hashtags.
The hope is that by not posting our own content, we can place people in the possibly uncomfortable position of having tough conversations.
On sticking to sports
At its core, Purple Row is a Colorado Rockies baseball site. As such, we focus our coverage and our postings on Colorado Rockies baseball. And while in the past there have been posts that have veered into political or partisan territory, it was always directly related to the Rockies or at least baseball in general.
Our decision to participate in Black Out Tuesday is the exception that proves that rule. Every day, it seems, the phrase “living in unprecedented times” only becomes more true. The events of the past week led us to the conclusion that it would be appropriate to make an exception in an effort to show solidarity and foster unity.
Rest assured, we would much rather be talking about baseball, whether the Purple Row Sim or the ongoing negotiations to return to real live games in 2020. We made an exception in this case to talk about something else. If you believe our standard for making this the exception was too low, or you have any other concerns you’d prefer to discuss at greater length, please reach out to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is our intent that this post will be the last we have to say on the matter. Please feel free to discuss in the comments, and the editors and moderators will be happy to respond. Again, we ask that all comments remain respectful and compassionate and in keeping with our community guidelines.