Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Sordid History of Hartford's Yard Goats

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The Hartford Yard Goats will be--probably, maybe?--playing their first home game next month after more than a year of delays and disappointments.

Although I'm still a little bitter they didn't go with my choice for the name, I admit their logo and hats are cool.

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It's too bad the name, which is an old nickname for trains, has a very racist legacy.

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"Come on, Thuggy, you're just reaching. You call everything racist!"

I hear you, imaginary reader, but I'm a little offended that even though I constructed you in my own brain, you're calling me out for making something up. The fact is, if we're talking about American history, chances are that racism is involved.

Hartford's legacy of trains and railroads is deeply intertwined with the city's history of discriminatory segregation. The term "wrong side of the tracks" isn't just some random collection of words or simply figurative language, or a great song from 1994; its meaning comes from the very real practice of purposefully segregating communities by race with the use of railroads, highways, and other man-made lines of transportation. Look at the following graph:

That shit is not a coincidence. In fact, it's a problem that was first addressed in 1968 by the Fair Housing Act. Thankfully, like racism itself, discriminatory housing and segregation ended that year.

Ha! Yeah, no, obviously. It actually has remained almost exactly as bad, at least enough so that rules were implemented  in 2015 designed to eliminate segregation in American cities. Unfortunately, short of completely recreating our current highway and railway systems (infrastructure? who needs that?!) not much will improve any time soon.

So Hartford's ode to it's trains and train yards is actually an ode to one of the worst contributors to institutional racism and segregation in America. Good job Hartford! Maybe karma was the real cause for all the delays in the construction of the park (and the reason your mascot Chompers was dive-tackled in front of the Science Center last year) and not just ineptitude and corruption.

Whatever the case, it's more apparent than ever that they should've gone with Hartford Hookers like I suggested. Now that's a history we can be proud of.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed. 

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