The Orem Owlz, a minor league baseball team in Orem, Utah, has pulled an Aug. 10 promotion billed as “Caucasian Heritage Night” after an onslaught of criticism in the wake of the race-motivated massacre at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., this week.
Though the Orem Owlz pulled the promotion from its website June 19, a Mashable.com article said it was targeted to fans who were “Irish, Italian, Scandinavian, German…. or even Utahn! Whatever your background, celebrate it at the Home of the Owlz!”
In a June 19 statement, Owlz’ General Manager Justo Vazquez said the team is “about baseball, togetherness and family fun for all fans of all races, religions, and orientations.”
The promotion, he added, was not meant to offend, but to “have fun and make fun of everyday normalcies.” And the “White night” was going to feature things such as “wonder bread on burgers with mayonnaise, clips from shows like Friends and Seinfeld and trying to solve the vertical leaping challenge.”
However, he added, “We understand, in light of recent tragic events, that our intentions have been misconstrued. For that, we sincerely apologize.”
On June 17, a White man –believed to be Dylann Roof —opened fire on a Bible study group at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church, killing nine, including the pastor. Authorities have labelled the assault a hate crime. And, when one of the victims reportedly begged the assailant to stop, he allegedly replied “No, you’ve raped our women, and you are taking over the country … I have to do what I have to do.”
That’s why the Owlz event seemed to rub some raw nerves.
“You wrote: ‘We understand, in light of recent tragic events, that our intentions have been misconstrued.’ How about: ‘We made a stupid mistake by using the same themes and language as white supremacists,’” wrote one commenter on the Owlz website.
Others, however, felt canceling the event was unnecessary and that detractors were being overly-sensitive.
“Owlz…I am pretty disappointed you gave into the CAUCASIAPHOBIA that permeates our society today,” wrote commentator greenearth. “Others put it right, if you can celebrate Latinos or African Americans, etc, you certainly can celebrate Caucasians. Treating you like you’re supporting white supremacy is racism towards you and towards other Caucasians. Celebrating blacks wouldn’t be celebrating criminals nor is celebrating whites celebrating racism. Please in the future have a bigger backbone. Or at least schedule this for later. Blaming you or other whites for what one white did in South Carolina is racist and caucasiaphobic. If you won’t stand now, will you ever?”