Hurtful chant directed at 7-year-old Little Leaguer leads to teachable moment

"This really isn't about blaming children, but ratifying and reconciling why this is offensive to the community."
SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- A chant at a Little League baseball game in San Mateo for a Chinese player to "hit the ball to China" is prompting a discussion about race and social justice and how to make our community more inclusive.

A father who requested only his first name of Web be used, took video of his son's first Little League baseball game in San Mateo on Sunday.

"I was recording him because my son was over the moon about joining a baseball team. It's his first time playing baseball and I wanted to record this first at bat so I could share it with my family."

Instead of sharing in his seven-year-old son's joyous first appearance at bat in a Little League game, the chants of "Hit the ball to China" are clearly heard as the second grader steps up to the plate.

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In several videos provided by Web, the chant appears to go on for minutes. It left Web dumbfounded...and hurt.

"Knowing my child is the only Asian American child on this baseball team...it was very upsetting for me."

Web says the cheers for other children were much different.

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"Their teammates were saying Let's go ____ and insert the child's name." Other chants included hitting the ball to "the moon" which other parents who did not want to share their identities confirmed.

Web alleges no adult, parent or coach made any attempt to stop the chant or educate the children afterward.

"The net outcome of this is that the chant itself was racist it was inappropriate... but again I want to believe in my heart this was not malicious and we have an opportunity to educate the team on how to do better."

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Cynthia Choi, one of the founding partners of Stop AAPI Hate who was just named one of TIME Magazine's most influential people of the year -- has been tracking the attacks on Asian Americans.

"This really isn't about blaming children, but ratifying and reconciling why this is offensive to the community," said Choi in a Zoom interview.

She says this kind of language is detrimental for a number of reasons.

"It parallels this idea of a perpetual foreigner. For many Americans China is the furthest away from America both symbolically and distance wise. There has been an increase in less favorable views of China and therefore Chinese people. This is the context in which we have to understand why this would be offensive to our community."

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The San Mateo Little League American commissioners sent a statement to ABC7 News after we asked how the situation was being addressed.

They thanked Web for bringing the "unacceptable behavior and response" to their attention.

They plan to take the following actions, including:

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Speaking to those involved to fully understand what happened.

Reminding adult volunteers, umpires and parents to watch for this kind of behavior.

Work with the nonprofit Positive Coaching Alliance to incorporate diversity and inclusion training.

After the statement was released Web seemed satisfied with the response and says he plans to talk to his son about what happened on Sunday. All in hopes for a better future.

"My son has to live these experiences. I hope he doesn't have as many as I did growing up. My most important take away is we need to do better that includes parents, coaches, educators.

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