As arguments about racism, white supremacy and gun violence dominated national conversations this week in the wake of two mass shootings, a heated discussion spilled into public view between two women married to former and current Chicago White Sox players.
Though their Instagram messages — in which one woman attacked the other over “black on black crime” and her anti-violence work in the city — were private, a third woman, another wife of a current Sox player, made public screenshots of the conversation that she called “insulting and demeaning.”
Bria Anderson — whose husband is White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson — originally wrote an Instagram post that decried white supremacy and urged reforms to curb gun violence. Elizabeth Swarzak — the wife of Atlanta Braves pitcher Anthony Swarzak, who pitched for the Sox in 2017 — privately responded to the post and asked, “What about all the black people killing each other in Chicago every day.”
Bria Anderson told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday she doesn’t want white supremacy to be conflated with the issue of violence in communities of color and she wouldn’t let the conversation affect her non-profit work. She said she had been friends with Swarzak when Swarzak’s husband pitched for the Sox and didn’t plan to “unfriend” her on social media.
“My only hope was that the other person I had that conversation with would kind of acknowledge all sides of the spectrum of the story, as opposed to trying to change the narrative and focus in on the violence that’s obviously happening in the African American community,” Bria Anderson said. “That conversation was just kind of irrelevant, to be honest, to what we were discussing as far as the mass shootings.”
The argument came in the wake of two mass shootings just hours apart at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and in a popular nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 dead, more than four dozen injured — and the country reeling and fearful.
Both attacks were by white men in their 20s. The gunman in the El Paso shooting is believed by police to have written an anti-immigrant manifesto that said he wanted to stop a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” which echoes language used by President Donald Trump. Police believe the shooter in the Dayton attack was obsessed with violence, especially against women, and had kept a “hit list” of people he wanted to kill or rape.
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I am so disgusted and disappointed. Bria Anderson is a teacher with a Masters degree working on her doctorate while raising two girls and running a non profit organization that works with the youth of South Side Chicago. For someone within this baseball family to say such disgraceful and disgusting things, to shamelessly act in a demeaning and hateful way is reprehensible. Half of the players in the MLB are IMMIGRANTS from Latin countries. To know someone among you holds hate in their heart or thinks of you as a criminal because of your birthplace is something I cannot even imagine. Insulting and demeaning a woman’s incredible non-profit work is mind boggling. I’m angry and hurt for every person of color involved in this sport - the players, wives, front office staff, coaches, trainers, the fans who love this sport. And for the families of those who lost their lives at the hands of mass murderers who, in their own words, wanted to kill people of color.
In screenshots of the conversation posted by Ariana Dubelko Giolito, whose husband is Sox All-Star pitcher Lucas Giolito, Elizabeth Swarzak asked about “black on black” Chicago violence and inaccurately pointed to Chicago having “some of the heaviest gun control in the country.”
Bria Anderson responded that, “Those black people weren’t killing children in schools, or driving 9 hours to specifically kill brown people.”
She reminded Swarzak of the “Hispanic invasion” manifesto and said she recognizes the need to help communities of color deal with violence, but that those problems shouldn’t be intertwined in a conversation about white supremacy: “I’m disgusted that you are trying to convince me that we shouldn’t talk about these white supremacists murdering innocent people of color.”
Swarzak responded, “It wasn’t all black people who were murdered. You’re delusional and it seems you want it to be about white supremacy.” She then went on to complain that “the word ‘white nationalist’ has been used recently to convince you that it’s white supremacy. When actually it’s ok to be a nationalist. Which is a person proud and loves their country.”
Swarzak added she would be deemed racist “if I highlighted the black on black crime in Chicago and said ... it’s only the black folks killing each other in Chicago and the north side is fine.” She also complained about “actual crime committed by immigrants in this country.”
She then said Anderson, in fact, was the one showing “racism towards white people” by decrying white supremacy and tried to discredit Anderson’s non-profit work: “Congratulations ... I see the work you’ve done and the happiness it gives [t]hose kids for 10 minutes before they head back to their hell of living in the grips of Chicago’s crime problem and the local governments inability to keep them safe.”
League of Leaders co-founder
Bria Anderson is the co-founder — along with her husband — and president of League of Leaders, a non-profit organization that works in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and on the South Side of Chicago. The organization provides mentorship, scholarships and coaching to youth and holds food drives and school supply giveaways, among other services. Bria Anderson has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and is pursuing a doctorate.
She pledged to forge ahead with her anti-violence work.
“We’re going to keep doing our part. ... There is an enormous amount of violence that happens in the black community, and we’re not blind to that,” she said. “And I think that’s why we are so passionate in advocating for change.”
Elizabeth Swarzak couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. On her Instagram story, she claimed the screenshots showed “an edited conversation,” which Bria Anderson denied.
“Love to everyone for shining light on me,” Elizabeth Swarzak wrote. “An edited conversation doesn’t define me. I love all people and respect all walks of life. I simply will not idle by as these atrocities unfold and lives are lost. I want a better life for everyone, especially children prone to gun violence in major cities.”
Anthony Swarzak’s agent declined to comment.
Tim Anderson was getting physical treatment Wednesday and wasn’t available to the media.
‘Disgraceful and disgusting’
Ariana Dubelko Giolito, who posted the screenshots of the argument to her public Instagram account, said she was “disgusted and disappointed” by Swarzak’s messages.
“For someone within this baseball family to say such disgraceful and disgusting things, to shamelessly act in a demeaning and hateful way is reprehensible,” she wrote. “Half of the players in the MLB are IMMIGRANTS from Latin countries. To know someone among you holds hate in their heart or thinks of you as a criminal because of your birthplace is something I cannot even imagine.”
Lucas Giolito, speaking in the Sox clubhouse Wednesday, said he stands by his wife voicing her displeasure.
“It comes down to she felt that one of her closest friends on the team was disrespected and wanted to stand up for her,” Lucas Giolito said. “My wife’s got a pretty powerful voice, and she likes to challenge people. She’s definitely challenged me over the last couple of years. That’s just who she is.”