The 2014 Little League World Series is a welcome change from the murder, death, destruction, violence and riots that all too often are inextricably a part of African-American children’s lives. In Chicago, children are dying at the hands of other children and the tragedy is reaching epidemic proportions. This loss of life is not just limited to Chicago. It is happening all across the nation. America’s children are dying in record numbers every day. Frustrations and feelings of futility continue to grow within a community as African-American men and women are being stopped, illegally searched and even killed at the hands of law enforcement. According to film actor/director Hawthorne James, this is not a new story, but it has come to light and into the public eye more now than ever by the abundance of everyday citizens having access to video recording devices. He feels that despite the fact that this is the present condition of an America that is failing its children and its minorities, there are still stories of hope to be recorded and told. This year’s 2014 Little League World Series could, according to one hopeful actor’s inspiring dream, potentially develop into a real life American story; the kind that inspires hope and encourages men and women to dream.
Amid the violence surrounding the black community, on a field in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a group of African-American children are set to oppose each other in a new and different way. This momentous clash is one which was totally unexpected by many, and completely outside the experience of some members of the community who might presently have an opportunity to vicariously experience the hope promised but never received. This could very well begin the process of a complete paradigm shift for many who were taught to look negatively upon this community, as well as for those who have borne the brunt of that negativity. This contest could just set the stage, a national stage, for a more complete discussion of the experience of being black in America.
Events are progressing as the competition has begun, with one potential scenario presenting itself which might just compel a temporary shift in media coverage from the depressing to the hopeful. This story could potentially lift to prominence a hope inspired actor’s dream involving a series of events that will ultimately lead to a captivating Little League World Series face off, which could dominate the national focus and compel media outlets to shift from its typical dependence on ever-present violence to the baseball diamond. Americans might just get caught up in watching the playing field where one 13-year-old African-American girl is pitching on a team from Pennsylvania and has led her squad to the Little League championships. It’s also possible for people to become enchanted with another team from Chicago, the first all-black team since 1992, on a similar trajectory. These converging trajectories might even bring these two teams together to square off against each other in the World Series, both aiming for victory on a field full of dreams.
Across the country, the more people learn about these talented children, the more difficulty they may have in deciding which team to support. The stories on both sides are compelling. Whether cheering for the young girl who is shutting down batters at a record rate, or the team of hopeful boys who come from a city racked with daily despair, the heartstrings are pulled. However the challenge ends, Mr. James regards it as a universal sign of hope when kids are given the opportunity to just be kids. Perhaps the 2014 Little League World Series will add another layer of meaning to the words spoken in the film Field of Dreams, “Build it, and they will come.”
Parents are coming from Pennsylvania and Chicago with the same goal in mind; to root for their children. More than just for the games, they are demonstrating hope for the futures of these children, and hope that they will have the opportunity of leading normal, everyday lives. That chance for a normal life is something which every child in the world should have, but which remains completely outside the experience of many of these children who come from impoverished backgrounds. Far too few have seen the opportunities which many take for granted, living instead with a culture of violence and a pervasive absence of optimism.
Teams will come from across the world to compete, but these two groups are just a little bit different. These children hold within them an optimistic spirit which defies the reality of their communities. These teams will each bring hope and aspirations from their homes to this battle without blood. Although they will be on opposite sides of hope, they will nonetheless carry that hope with child-like abandon toward a common goal of victory. Win or lose, both teams will exit the 68th Little League World Series field with their heads held high after engaging in America’s favorite pastime in a show that reveals what real teamwork can bring about.
For a young black girl who is playing on a team with Caucasian and African-American children together, encouraging and embracing each other in defiance of prejudice and preconception, there is a hopeful spirit of unity. For a group of African-American boys who have joined together to show how successful they can become by cooperating with and supporting one another despite difficult and desperate circumstances, there is a hopeful spirit of perseverance. By simply doing their best, these children are showing the world that black Americans can meet on a battlefield and all come out winners. They can compete without jealousy, envy or strife. These are young people just playing a game. Something that simple has the power to remind even the most jaded adults of what can happen when they allow their children to be innocent.
These children have been given the hope of a better tomorrow. Mr. James continues to hold them up as examples of what could and should be a common experience for all children everywhere. He echoes a sentiment close to the hearts of all Americans, that of equality for all children and the belief that all deserve to be given hope despite socio-economic differences. He champions this contest as one holding great potential. The entire nation can get excited that these kids have been allowed to have the experience of going outside and playing a child’s game like so many in former generations have done. Baseball has shown them that they can dream, work hard, achieve their goals and rise above their circumstances no matter the situation. The game has given these kids hope.
With just the possibility of these children facing each other, the doors of memory are swung wide open. Americans of an age to remember are called back to the days when children could run, jump, swing and play outdoors without having to dodge bullets, nor feel the impact of the violence that is so common and tragic in their communities. These are the basic guarantees which were given when this country was founded. These are the principles of life which allow a stance for peace, friendship, and unity.
These children have overcome enormous obstacles as they edge closer and closer to a special place in history. Their parents have been given an awesome opportunity to see their children playing on a field of hope, and to witness a freedom that many of this present generation have never experienced.These are the ideals which these children represent, and which Americans will be rooting for as they choose sides. Whichever team they support, they will be supporting a move away from the despair and destruction which has become common in the African-American community. Supporting these kids will bring a new viewpoint rather than the prism of fear and anger through which that community has been viewed from the outside. This is the opportunity for a fresh perspective, where the country can see them proud, standing tall, and full of potential.
These children of color have learned to shift their world upward. No longer will thoughts about this community be limited to a characterization of violence, drive-by shootings, high crime and murder. Instead, there are two African-American forces of will and spirit that could likely stand on opposite sides of the same battlefield with purpose, determination, and the possibility of teaching the nation of spectators a thing or two.
For the black community, this public achievement of historical success is the equivalent of giving someone who is suffocating a breath of fresh air.
America has historically encouraged dreams as well as dreamers. Baseball, played on the field of dreams, has often been called as American as mom’s apple pie. It is fitting in light of that, to hope for the American Dream story of Pennsylvania’s Mo’ne Davis and the Taney Dragons facing off with the Jackie Robinson West baseball team from Chicago in the first Little League Word Series of color in over 20 years. Hawthorne James firmly believes that no matter which team anyone chooses to root for, they will be putting their support behind this dream and inspirational idea of a greater hope for the children of the world.
Dream? Perhaps an American team story more inclusively describes this hopeful wish.
Opinion By Hawthorne James
Guardian Liberty Voice
Jim Malone (Co-Contributor)
Guardian Liberty Voice
Cherese Jackson (Co-Contributor)
Guardian Liberty Voice
DiMarkco Chandler (Co-Contributor)
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Alana Marie Burke (Co-Contributor)
Guardian Liberty Voice
James Cannon Vice Chairman and Co-Founder of Changing Chicago Foundation (Investigative and inspirational contributor)
Gricelda Vicario (Co-Contributor)