His View: DE&I in Sports
By Justin Reyes, vice president of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Major League Baseball
When my grandparents left Puerto Rico in 1952, they, like millions of Latino families, left their familiar surroundings in search of a promise – one regardless of who you were, where you came from or what language you spoke, success and opportunity could be found.
I like to think they, like me, saw their story reflected in many ways with baseball.
My grandfather would tell me about the New York Giants playing in the Polo Grounds and walking to Yankee Stadium from his Washington Heights neighborhood. He saw himself in the stories of Jackie Robinson, Orlando Cepeda, and Willie Mays. However, few figures loomed as large in my home as Roberto Clemente – an unapologetic Afro-Latino who left sugar cane fields to play for los Cangrejeros de Santurce before making history with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His story was ours, and his commitment to communities in need ultimately influenced my own career.
To be a practitioner of DEI is to be in service to marginalized communities. So, in many ways, working for MLB is a full-circle moment for me. I am my grandparent’s hope come true: a college graduate with an advanced degree, helping lead the DE&I practice at MLB and blessed with an opportunity to advance the legacies of trailblazing players and leaders. I also get to influence the present and future culture of baseball for Black, Latino, Asian and Native American players as well as our fans, communities, and employees. I do this alongside influential Latina leaders like those featured in this issue.
Since joining MLB, I have seen progress – the first female general manager in men’s professional sports; correcting a long-overdue mistake by officially designating the Negro Leagues to “Major League” status; and the continued commitment to social justice and civil rights.
Every day, I have the privilege to bring my family history and my personal goals to work as a proud Latino. Being able to represent the rich complexity of our multi-ethnic, multi-racial identities means so much to me, and I never take that for granted.