The fight against racism has taken on many forms at many different levels and athletes at all levels are using their platform to help combat racism.
Despite social distancing and despite being opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans were linked arms on the field in solidarity against racism. Western Michigan University has joined in, creating an athletics-based diversity task force to put a full-court press on social injustice.
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Falls sports aren’t happening at Western Michigan University, but that doesn’t mean the athletic department has been sitting on the bench. Instead, they created a diversity task force with the motto “We Must Unite,” and a goal to create an even playing field for all Broncos.
“At the end of the day our goal is to educators, and that’s what we are trying to do with this task force is educate people, listen and hopefully make some sort of change,” Western Michigan University Senior Associate Athletic Director Keanah Smith said.
Student athletes at Western Michigan University are used to uniting in the classroom, on the court, or on the field, but t newly formed diversity task force, made up of student athletes, coaches and staff, has the goal of that same unity is taken to the next level.
Sammy Boateng, head coach of the Broncos women's soccer team, said sports have a major platform and responsibility in the fight for equality.
He said the task force would enable students from all backgrounds to have an open conversation about race and inclusion.
“Within our program with women’s soccer, we have been having some tough conversations, making sure that people understand and for the student athletes to give them a space to have those conversation,” Boateng said.
Smith said changing someone’s actions starts with changing someone’s mind.
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There are five points athletes have committed to:
- Providing a Safe Inclusive Space. A place where all are welcome, every race, color, creed, sexual orientation and religion.
- Listening. Everyone will be encouraged to come with open ears, open minds and open hearts to listen to the stories and experiences that will provide all with a reality of what occurs in our world past and present.
- Providing Education and Awareness. Making resources and educational opportunities readily available to all student-athletes, coaches and staff members.
- Advocating for Equality. We believe in fighting for equal opportunities for all and to participate in activities that will contribute to and ultimately benefit a better future.
- Creating Real Change. Using community service, volunteer activities and outreach programs to continue to spread our message beyond the Western Michigan University Athletics community.
As task force gained momentum, Boateng and Smith said they hope the group could use their love of sports, to spread love to everyone.
“In our stage and infancy, is to be able to have upfront, honest conversations with each other and not be offended if you’ve participated in some of these things or you haven’t recognized some of those things but being accepting of, you know what I didn’t see that but now I see it,” Boateng said.