In first-person narrative written last week for The Undefeated, an ESPN-owned website that focuses on the intersection of race and sports, Clayton native and Tampa Bay Rays star pitcher Chris Archer recounts some of the hardships of growing up as a biracial kid while thanking his grandparents for the way they raised him.
Archer, whose mother is white and father is black and was raised by his white grandparents, said he “never knew color because the love my de facto parents ... enveloped me with was all the unconditional love a child could ever need.”
Though he said he “experienced very little racial strife and tension” in his formative years, “that’s not to say racism didn’t exist in my adolescent life.”
There were two moments Archer brings up in the article.
The first came in elementary school where, after he eliminated a white classmate from a dodgeball game, the kid yelled “I don’t care that you beat me blackie!”
Archer said he tried to internalize what had just been said: “I asked myself ‘Is this really how people see me?’ That was the precise moment that I realized I was black. And by the time I had looked down, I realized that color was now a part of my life that I could not avoid.”
In high school, he recalls asking out a white girl who he had been spending a lot of time with: “I’ll never forget her response. ‘My dad said that I’m not allowed to hang out with N-words, or have a boyfriend that is a N-word.’”
Archer attributes both stories to the upbringing of those individuals and says he doesn’t harbor ill will towards them.
“I hold no grudge toward that kid on the grade school playground. And I don’t fault my sophomore year crush for the comment that ended our relationship. They didn’t know what they were saying carried so much hate. They unfortunately grew accustomed to those beliefs in the environment they were raised in, and they were simply regurgitating what their household environment passed on to them.”
I just wish they could have grown up in a house and environment like mine. A house where my parents endlessly nurtured me, where they showered me with love.
MLB pitcher Chris Archer of Clayton
He thanks his grandparents for their love, and how that changed the way he approaches those who come from different backgrounds.
“I just wish they could have grown up in a house and environment like mine. A house where my parents endlessly nurtured me, where they showered me with love, and where, despite my ‘differences,’ showed me and my surrounding environment total acceptance regardless of race, religion, creed or sexual orientation.”
Archer graduated from Clayton in 2006 and was a fifth-round pick by Cleveland that summer. He is a two-time All-Star and pitched for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
The article will appear in the Feb. 5 edition of ESPN the Magazine, along with a letter by NBA star John Wall to his late father.