Decoding Black Characters: Pitch’s Ginny Baker
This post was inspired by a recent thread by Sydette Harry on twitter. Before we get into that, for those unfamiliar Ginny Baker, played by actress and model Kylie Bunbury, was the main character of a recently canceled Fox tv drama called Pitch. Ginny Baker is a young woman thrown into the spotlight when she becomes the first woman to ever be drafted to a Major League Baseball team. The first, and only, season follows Ginny as we learn about her past, her friends and her family. As Harry points out, Ginny is often struggling with reconciling her personal identity and humanity with the “baseball robot” she has to become in her public persona.
As the show progresses it seems that more and more often her happiness and mental health are at odds with building her brand and career because she is not allowed to display the amount of labor that goes into making her a star and a role model. Sydette suggests that it is no coincidence that Pitch got canceled because they revealed too much about how systems treat black people. Ginny was a symbol, a fully developed character that broke the image of an obedient black robot that did as the establishment told them to. With Harry’s words in mind, this post is meant to be a sort of celebration and appreciation of Ginny Baker and everything that her unfinished narrative meant. That use of imagery is also historically relevant since the concept of robots and automatons and the fear that they will disobey their masters originated in the fear that African slaves would realize their own humanity and rise up against their white owners.
By going in depth into Ginny Baker’s personal life and witnessing first hand how much she struggled to live up to or exceed everyone’s expectations, it could be said that black women in general were humanized. While most of us are not the first woman to join Major League Baseball, we have all had to deal with high expectations from our loved ones or low expectations from people operating on prejudice and misogynoir. Like Ginny, we fight for the space to just exist and be for our own sakes as we determine what we want our roles to be in the world. The idea of being a Strong Independent Black Woman is a burden that justifies denying care and tenderness when black women need it most and it’s truly a shame that Pitch was canceled just when it had just gotten started on breaking down that stereotype and shining a light on the pressure on black women to perform.