A Black child on one of the teams at the Little League World Series had his hair stuffed with what appeared to be cotton by his teammates. Pictures of the incident have circulated on social media. What are we doing here?
— Smitty (@BullCityHeel) August 22, 2022
The team in question appears to be Davenport, Iowa. They defeated Santa Clara, Utah 10-2 on Sunday. At some point during the game, and caught on the broadcast, teammates were seen putting a cotton-like substance pulled from inside stuffed toys on the Black child’s hair. In the video captured, the Black child does not appear to be enjoying the actions of his teammates.
Apparently during the ESPN broadcast, announcer Karl Ravech chalked the incident up to kids being kids. Thinking perhaps it was a part of some kind of hazing ritual?
Here's video from the broadcast: pic.twitter.com/CTUJ2hVg2A
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) August 22, 2022
According to TMZ, LLWS officials say they spoke with the child’s mother and coaches and “that there was no ill-intent behind the action shown during the broadcast.”
To understand why some see racial implications with this incident, you need to know the history of Black people and cotton particularly in this country.
The relationship between cotton and Black people is at the core of the United States of America. Cotton was the most important product and in the late 1700s and 1800s and an entire economy was built on it. As more farms grew cotton and the demand increased, so too did the demand for people to harvest it; slaves.
As written in “Cotton and Race in the Making of America: Global Economic Power, Human Costs and Current Relevance”:
It prolonged slavery and slave-produced cotton caused the American Civil War, our bloodiest conflict which came close to destroying the nation. When cotton production exploded to satiate the nineteenth century textile industry’s enormous appetite, it became the first truly complex global business and thereby a major driving force in U.S. territorial expansion and sectional economic integration. Both before and after the Civil War, blacks were assigned the cotton fields while a pervasive racial animosity and fear of a black migratory invasion caused white Northerners to contain blacks in the South.