This column continues the Only One series in which this reporter shares his experiences as the only African American journalist on the scene.
SEATTLE — Someone told me before coming to the Emerald City that Seattle and Minneapolis are similar in some ways. That person was right.
During our first day ever here, the Only One saw the similarities while at the city’s downtown baseball stadium: very few Blacks at the ball game, just like in downtown Minneapolis.
“Marcus” (not his real name), a stadium worker told me that Thursday’s Mariners-New York Yankees contest isn’t unusual in this regard. “There’s no Blacks here,” he declared, while two fellow Black workers laughed at our inquiries.
“Darius and Nancy” (not their real names) as they were leaving their shifts told us that there’s more Blacks working in the stadium kitchen, where they labor, than we will see in the stands. They weren’t kidding. We saw, as regularly the case at Twins games, more Black workers than fans. Frankly, we saw more Blacks panhandling outside the stadium than we saw inside watching the home team lose Thursday night.
The three workers also noted that Seattle is a football town, and more Black fans are typically seen at Seahawks games than Mariner contests.
Marcus also complained about the constant new pricey housing construction going on in downtown Seattle, just like in the Twin Cities. He says the Black citizenty is being pushed out in favor of non-Blacks, who can afford the four-figure monthly rent. He’s afraid with the proposed Amazon expansion that Blacks also will be aced out of the jobs being offered as well.
Tina Charles and Jasmine Thomas, along with Breanna Stewart, were on the field as Stewart’s Seattle Storm teammate Sue Bird threw out the ceremonial first ball prior to Thursday’s game. WNBA President Lisa Borders was honored with a replica baseball jersey as well.
But the Blacks I encountered weren’t even aware that a All-Star game, let alone the WNBA, was being held this weekend in downtown Seattle. Neither was the cab driver who brought me from the airport to the hotel. Same for the airport worker of color — like the Twin Cities, Seattle has a growing African immigrant population as well.
The young Somali wanted to know about the Minnesota weather climate — he said his parents suffer from arthritis and is looking for a climate in which they could better function. He thought about the Twin Cities’ Somalian community.
And as usually the case at baseball games, the Mariners press box lacked diversity — the Only One was the only Black sportswriter present at the game, our first baseball game attended in the Pacific Northwest. In other ways, it was just like being at home.
Next — the Only One at the All-Star practices
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.