In the midst of protests against racial injustice by athletes around the U.S., Miami Herald sports columnist Armando Salguero took to Twitter to call the athletes "America-bashing" people and to defend the three-fifths compromise, a clause in the U.S. Constitution that classified slaves as three-fifths of a person in population counts.
After police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, last Sunday, a number of athletes have protested by not showing up to scheduled games or walking off without playing, including the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Marlins. Several teams have also issued video statements about the strikes while wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.
Yesterday, Salguero retweeted a video of the Tennessee Titans and their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, who said America was founded on "racist ideas." Salguero, who has written of his escape from Cuba with his mother when he was a child, responded that he is "so sick of the America bashing by people who have never lived and would never live anywhere else."
Miami Herald publisher and executive editor Mindy Marques tells New Times that Salguero's opinions "do not reflect the views of the Miami Herald."
Ryan Tannehill says the United States of America “was founded upon racist ideas...”— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) August 28, 2020
I am so sick of the America bashing by people who have never lived and would never live anywhere else.pic.twitter.com/xHgA8nHvyN
"The right to free expression and a free press are foundational to our democracy," she said in an email. "Armando Salguero is a Miami Herald sports columnist and unlike reporters, columnists have broad latitude to express their opinions."
Salguero's tweet echoes the call of people on the opposite side of the Black Lives Matter movement who argue, essentially, that if you don't like it here, you can leave. Those critics posit that America is better than other countries and therefore immune to criticism about its oppressive past.
In the comments on Salguero's tweet, a staff writer for the Dallas Cowboys website pointed out that a provision in the U.S. Constitution defines Black people as "being worth 3/5 of a person." Salguero responded by posting a link to a video by PragerU, a conservative online platform, that claims the three-fifths compromise was "anti-slavery."
Constitutional Convention in 1787. When counting the population to determine how much representation each state would receive in Congress, the South would have benefited by counting all of its enslaved people, while the North would have benefited if only free people were counted.
In the end, it was decided that the enslaved population would only count for three-fifths of its total number for the purposes of taxation and apportionment. While it does not explicitly say that Black people had three-fifths status, many have contended that the language implies that enslaved people were not worth as much as their free, white counterparts.
Salguero went on to opine that because the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are built upon free speech and equality for all men, America was not built on racist ideals. (It's unclear how the fact that the nation was built on slavery and the idea that people were considered property based on skin color, or that legal segregation was a thing, fits into that view.)
Several of Salguero's Miami Herald colleagues responded to him on Twitter, arguing against his perspective and offering their own.
"Because once slavery ended, that was it. Blacks were immediately embraced by all Americans with equal rights and opportunities...(Written in Sarcasm Font)," wrote Herald reporter David J. Neal, who is Black.
Colleen Wright, a Herald education reporter and a Cuban-American, tried to offer a balanced perspective by saying that a person can love their country while still recognizing its faults and racist history.
Wright continued by apologizing to readers for Salguero's comments.
Ya know, both things can be true. A country can be beautiful and welcoming and prosperous for one group of people. Armando — and my family — are in that group.— Colleen Wright ???? (@Colleen_Wright) August 28, 2020
That same country continues to kill generations of another group of people for the color of their skin. https://t.co/15Wf3uJUvJ
"It should be clear — and sadly it STILL isn't clear to my colleague — black lives matter," Wright wrote. "Armando's tweet is so gaslighting & as a Miami Herald reporter, I am so sorry. Our readers deserve better."
Last night's tweet is far from Salguero's first social-media tirade against civil-rights demonstrations in sports.
In November 2016, after confronting San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during a conference call before a matchup between the visiting 49ers and the Miami Dolphins, Salguero wrote a column deeming Kaepernick a "fraud" and an "unrepentant hypocrite" for wearing a T-shirt that depicted a 1960 meeting between Fidel Castro and Malcolm X. Last year, as New Times reported, Salguero tweeted that he would "rather have Satan" as a quarterback than Kaepernick, who had been blacklisted by the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
Before that, Salguero wrote a column in which he referred to football coaches as "masters" and players as "dogs" who live to serve and respond to conditioning.