Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, the son of a Black father and a Japanese mother, is speaking out about the rise of violence against Asian Americans in the United States.
“Over the past year, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of hate crimes against Asian Americans and the Pacific Islander community,” Roberts wrote in an internal email to the Dodgers organization. “In recent months, those attacks have intensified and have targeted the elderly in California and New York — such bullying is cowardice.”
The email, first obtained by The Athletic, was sent out to the entire Dodgers organization, which has not publicly addressed the #StopAsianHate movement. The Los Angeles metro area contains one of the densest Asian populations in the United States, with 11.3% of the population identifying as Asian, according to the 2010 census, and established enclaves such as Koreatown and Filipinotown.
A February Facebook post from professional basketball player Jeremy Lin prompted Roberts to address the urgency of the moment. Roberts, alongside Dodgers traveling secretary Scott Akasaki, who is Japanese American, drafted an email to send out to the organization.
“Unfortunately anti-Asian sentiment is a part of American history (see 1880s, 1940s, or the 1980s as examples) and it has resurfaced again during the pandemic as some seem to blame the world’s problems on one ethnic group. To blame Asian Americans at all for the global pandemic is just wrong,” Roberts wrote. “I am thankful that Major League Baseball has issued a statement condemning the recent crimes.”
Roberts is the second Asian American manager in Major League Baseball history after Don Wakamatsu, who led the Seattle Mariners from 2009 to 2010 and currently serves as the bench coach for the Texas Rangers. In November, former Dodgers executive Kim Ng became the first Asian American to become a general manager for an MLB team when she was hired by the Miami Marlins.
Speaking at Dodgers spring training on Monday, Roberts explained why he felt the need to send the email.
“I just think that there’s a lot of things going on in and outside of our country towards Asians, and racist, bullying acts,” Roberts said. “It hit obviously close to home for me, and I just felt that I wanted to address it internally and show my support for the Asian Americans in our organization first off. We’re all aware of it. It’s just something that was in my heart that I felt needed to be shared.”
Roberts added that the email was well-received.
“I just think a lot of people felt heard and supported, and their voice was kind of heard,” Roberts said. “And that was really important to me.”
ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.