Pockets of Black Twitter are seemingly as much outraged as it is stunned at the apparent racial overtones – however inadvertent they may be – in a tweet promoting a sweepstake of sorts for a minor league baseball team.
It all started with a tweet from the Twitter account for Minor League Promos, which identifies itself in part as the “Unofficial Official home for Minor League Baseball promotions and giveaways.” The tweet in question offered its 26,000 followers a chance to win a lunchbox styled after a jersey for the Chatanooga Lookouts, the Double-A affiliate of MLB’s Cincinnati Reds.
Printed across the lunchbox that looks like a jersey is five capital letters, “NOOGA,” a clear and obvious nod to the Tennessee city in which the minor league baseball team is based.
Those doom-scrolling on Twitter could be forgiven for thinking they saw a baseball jersey with an anti-Black racial epithet. As they presumably stopped scrolling to take a closer look at the tweet, its accompanying text couldn’t have been much comfort.
“Expect a packed house tonight at the @ChattLookouts,” the tweet said before asking: “Want one of these [‘NOOGA] jersey lunch boxes? Line up on the hill early.”
The letter “O” in the word “‘NOOGA” were replaced by a pair of emoji eyes, completing the transformation from what likely began as an innocent enough tweet to its final incarnation flirting with racism.
The responses on Twitter were swift and replete with gifs and video clips that, taken together, show Minor League Promos’ tweet was at least partially greeted as being racist.
Photos on the Lookouts’ website showed players wearing jerseys with “‘NOOGA” printed across them. Photos from a game in 2018 also showed Chattanooga players wearing jerseys with the word “Lookouts” instead of the “‘NOOGA” moniker.
Regardless, the overwhelming sentiment seemed to be that there was an obvious lack of diversity behind not only Minor League Promos’ tweet but also the Lookouts’ abbreviated nickname.
“Nooga is wild,” one tweet said in response to Minor League Promos’ tweet. “Y’all ain’t got any black people telling y’all this.”
Another tweet marveled over the tweet’s apparent lack of shame.
“Y’all ain’t even trying to hide no more,” the tweet said.
Others posted tongue-in-cheek tweets that employed humor to underscore how flagrant of a violation Black Twitter considered the moment.
“Nooga please !” one tweet said.
“I beg of you, brands, please hire some ‘Noogas next time,” another tweet implored via a fine blend of sarcasm and cultural criticism.
Without picking up on any of the hints provided by Black Twitter, the person manning the Chattanooga Lookouts’ Twitter account decided it would be a good idea to retweet the Minor League Promos’ tweet.
“Nooga Lunch Box giveaway to the first 1000 fans,” the Lookouts’ tweet said joining Minor League Promos’ apparent tone-deafness.
The social media gaffe came nearly two months after now-former MLB announcer Glen Kuiper was fired for saying the N-word live on TV before a game.
Chances are that this promo along with the Kuiper incident won’t help the sport of baseball attract more Black American players, who have been targeted particularly by MLB in an effort to better diversify the game.
According to a report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), American Black players made up 18% of all MLB rosters in 1991. On opening day in 2022, American Black players only made up 7.2% of all MLB rosters, the lowest percentage since TIDES began assessing the demographics. In 2022, for the first time since 1950, there was not a single American-born Black player on either team in the World Series.
This is America.
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