George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery. Their senseless killings are only four of the countless racial injustices that have taken place in the history of this country. We, the Center for Sport Psychology and Athlete Mental Health, acknowledge the pain and suffering that has taken place over these last several weeks. These tragedies serve as a reminder that racism, marginalization, and systemic oppression are still rampant and pervasive; they have been woven into the fabric of our society through laws, regulations, policies, violence, and a lack of vision from our leaders. Our Center condemns any form of racialized violence and injustice. We hold firmly to the principle that silence in the face of racism is compliance to systems that maintain the status quo of oppression. Instead, we stand in solidarity with the Black community and want you to know you are not alone. We are actively working towards an anti-racist approach by educating ourselves, engaging in self-reflection about our own values and biases, and having difficult and meaningful dialogues on these topics. As a Center, we are committed to finding effective ways to speak out on social injustices and learning how we may promote equity and inclusion.
While police brutality is at the forefront of our country’s mind, it is only one representation of the systemic racism in our society that needs to be addressed. Equity and justice within education, housing, public health, hiring, and voting are a short list of the issues that are not being addressed. Such issues are also present in the world of sport where we see the effects of racism and systematic oppression include the negative reactions to athletes’ peaceful protests (e.g., kneeling during the national anthem) and the lack of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in coaching, management, or owner positions. We would be remiss to not acknowledge the Heritage of Black athletes, whose personal sacrifices and struggles often have been pushed aside in historical accounts of sport, yet whose efforts were key in the push for civil rights, decency and justice, both in sport and society. We are committed to addressing the outward and insidious forms of racism that affect BIPOC within sport. In addition, we acknowledge the ways in which race and ethnicity can intersect with other cultural identities (e.g., gender identity, sexual identity, socioeconomic status) to amplify experiences of injustice, discrimination, and oppression. We openly support athletes, staff, and leagues who are using their platform as a way to promote social justice and support the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition, we are working towards better understanding the systems of oppression in sport and providing social justice-oriented counseling.
Allyship is not just simply sharing posts and writing statements on a website. Active participation requires an understanding of history, racial injustice, and the intersectionality of marginalized identities in the United States. To White folks, we encourage you to continue educating yourself on racism, systematic oppression, and privilege alongside us as a Center. This education can be achieved through reading books and articles, watching videos, listening to podcasts, etc. Please check out this fantastic list, which also includes resources for members of the Black community and People of Color, created by our colleagues from the Association for Applied Sport Psychology: https://appliedsportpsych.org/resources/black-lives-matter-aasps-statement-resources-related-to-recent-racialized-events/#RacialJusticeResources
In addition, for students and early career professionals in the field of sport and exercise psychology, check out this video of the 2020 AASP Student Social Justice Forum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqw-PPY56YE&feature=youtu.be&t=6958
Other ways of being an ally include donating, protesting, signing petitions, (see: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/?fbclid=IwAR0KUCZVI8SscK9tKHnQwlbtoA4Gbnt52v6IVzfvyFVKHHHx1Jcvrcl0yNY), supporting your Black friends, family, and colleagues, and speaking out when you hear racist comments and see social injustices.
It is only together that we can take the momentum of this moment and dismantle the institutions and systems that have been used throughout the history of the United States to oppress, deny, incarcerate and kill black people and marginalize and discriminate against entire communities. Until Black lives matter, no one is truly safe and free.