Bradley Broke a Cardinal Rule Between Black Journalists and Their Subjects

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 12, 2004

Jason Reid and Milton Bradley

SAN ANTONIO,TX — Jason Reid deserves and apology and the Los Angeles Dodgers organization needs to make sure that this young man gets one. For Milton Bradley to call Reid a sell out and an “Uncle Tom” simply gives more credence to the fact that Bradley has no business in a MLB uniform. Reid deserves an apology because Bradley broke an unwritten code between a Black reporter and a Black sports athlete; never interject race into a conversation that’s ‘personal’.

From various sources in the news media, it was Bradley, not Reid, who was out of line. Reid asked a question about the St. Louis fans and Bradley decided to take the low road in answering the question. He’s the one who got upset and provoked the exchange that led to Reid being restrained by team officials and others in the clubhouse. Yet instead of Bradley apologizing for his insensitive remarks, he wanted to think he was the perfect little angel. Well who is the sellout now? Definitely not Reid. Not if Bradley’s name continues to be attributed to a malcontent with the beat writers.

What Bradley did was akin to basically telling Reid that he was white. How does Bradley know that Reid is an Uncle Tom? What proof does he have? None. Zero. Zilch. Reid is no more a sellout to his race than Bradley is. What charities does Bradley send his money too? How much time does he spend in South Central Los Angeles trying to mentor to the young gang members about a different lifestyle? What foundation has he set up to help underprivileged youth in his old neighborhood? If Bradley says that he doesn’t do any of that then wouldn’t it be right to consider him a sellout to the white establishment? It would if a Black reporter wanted to slant his story in that fashion. After all, just because you participated in the “Take a Dodger to School Day” event back in early September doesn’t qualify you as being a great media interview.

What is truly troubling is the fact that the Dodgers organization feels like they have done everything right in regards to this situation. Bradley’s outbursts have been going on all season and yet the team has never really done anything to sit the 24-year-old ball player down. More importantly it seems that the team has done more to condone his actions than to speak out against them. The proof is in the pudding when the PR department strong-arms a camera crew into erasing the tape. Wiping of evidence shows that the team condones the action and protection of the player in this reporter’s eyes.

But let’s get back to Bradley and his definition of a sell out. At 24, what does he know about racism? Practically nothing. He’s a privileged individual the last time this reporter checked the economic status. As a professional ball player in the big leagues, Bradley is one of several who are making seven figures for playing a kids game. You want to talk about being a sell out, and then maybe Bradley should look squarely in the mirror and say, “Yes I am an Uncle Tom because I make more money than many African Americans these days.” Maybe Bradley should ask Reid the next time he sees him how he gets by on a reporter’s salary. Ask him how does he manage living in California where the cost of living is just sky-high. In other words maybe Bradley should get to know Reid a little better and maybe then Reid would understand Bradley a little better.

That aside though what Bradley did was flat out “janky” in my book. There is an unwritten code between black reporters and black athletes and Bradley crossed it big time. You simply do not interject racial issues into an interview that is aimed at the reporter and vice versa. That’s taboo and in case Bradley hasn’t figured it out by now, anybody else that is a beat writer for Major League Baseball and happens to be black, his name is on his or her list of ‘idiots to not interview’.

Jason Reid probably isn’t going to ask for a special apology from the Dodgers or Bradley but he deserves one. The question however is now this: How many more “Jason Reids” are going to have to put up with the “Milton Bradleys” of the world because of ignorance?