Bernie Williams was a fixture of my youth.
Not in a good way. I was a Red Sox fan and he and Paul O’Niell were complete symbolic figures of how those guys in pinstripes would destroy all my hopes for future happiness.
There was another way I always looked at him. He was the black guy.
Now. Obviously. There’s a lot of problems with that statement (either racially, in terms of accuracy, or otherwise), but we’re talking about a young man’s innocent characterization of his rival baseball team. Those 1996-2000 Yankees rosters were filled with white guys and hispanic players… and Bernie Williams was the African American player. He had a distinctly African-American name: Bernie Williams. He had a perfect American accent. He really was a great player and as much as I hated his success, he was great.
BUT the point is there was nothing about him that ever, ever made you think he was anything but African-American.
Nope, dude is TOTALLY Puerto-Rican. I haven’t done any in depth research or anything, but one can assume there’s some African ancestry in his lineage (and one can then question, that since Puerto Rico is part of the US, is he still African-American, but that’s another can of worms). Still, it was just a really weird thing realizing that he was Puerto-Rican. I mean his middle name is Figueroa! I had no idea.
I’m not alone in this either. I mentioned this to my friends and they were equally shocked.