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Yankees great Derek Jeter dealing with racism growing up biracial

The hurtful memories of the past haunt most of our upcoming life. The same goes to Derek Jeter whose $265 million earning and the five World Series championships that he won playing 20 seasons with the Yankees didn’t really help him forget is most painful memories of his youth.

As a son of a Black man and white woman, Jeter who is usually very reserved about his personal life, opened up about his early years in a recent interview with ESPN’s Harold Reynolds for a “Baseball Tonight” segment.

“When I grew up, at the time interracial marriage was not as common as it may be nowadays,” Jeter said. “Growing up, every time you went somewhere with just one of your parents, people would look at you and they’d wonder who’s this person you’re with. When you went out to eat or to a store with both parents, you really got some uncomfortable looks.

“But my parents were very direct with me, and my sister as well, that you have to make sure that you surround yourself with people of all nationalities, all colors and don’t let anyone talk down to you because of your race. Stick up for yourself.

“But those were the times, and unfortunately those are still the times. And that’s why we’re talking, it’s time for change.”

Since the distressing video of George Floyd being suffocated to death with a knee to the neck by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, The Miami Marlins CEO and part-owner outspoken about racial injustice.

Jeter has firsthand experience

“Look, I’m not the darkest brother in the world, but I’ve been pulled over driving down the street growing up,” he said. “I’ve been accused of stealing things from stores. We’re not here to go back and forth on whose stories are worse, but that’s just that’s how it is and that’s how it’s been.”

The very first word came out on June 1 when he  released a 191-word statement to express his “pain and outrage.”

Jeter took a bigger step pleading for change throughout his 11-minute ESPN interview, at one point rattling off the names of five Blacks who were killed in the last decade due to racial injustice.

“You get to a point and say, ‘When is it going to stop and how many more tragedies?’” Jeter said. “George Floyd, Ahmaud Arber, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless others that people never even hear those stories, and something needs to change and it gets to a point where you say enough is enough.”

Jeter’s optimism continues with the worldwide protests followed Floyd’s death.

“For the first time you’re seeing people across all 50 states, roughly 20 other countries, people of all different races and different nationalities out there in agreement that now’s the time,” Jeter said. “Things need to change because it’s been going on for too long.”

As a kid, Jeter was lectured continuously by his parents about race issues. Here was the message passed along by Charles and Dorothy Jeter:

“Don’t let anyone treat you poorly because of the color of your skin, but unfortunately some people are going to look at you differently. So you’re going to have to work harder. You’re going to have to be better and you can’t have any excuses.”

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