Dawn Staley, Carolyn Peck, Muffet McGraw and Geno Auriemma discussed racism and inequality in the virtual group Hoopfeed.com
Published on June 10, 2020
Through Cheryl Coward
Listen to Carolyn Peck talk about being racially discriminated against in her neighbors
After several black Americans died in the current and former police, and after several weeks of protests across the country, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) held a virtual group to discuss racial injustice and inequality. Hosted by Cleveland Cavaliers sideline reporter Angel Gray, the “Action Time” panel includes:
- South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley and the U.S. Women’s Senior National Team
- Carolyn Peck, sports host of ESPN and SEC Network
- Muffet McGraw, recently retired head coach of the University of Notre Dame
- Geno Auriemma, head coach of the University of Connecticut
The symposium was a timely event. Many college and professional athletes, coaches, and managers made online statements against systematic racism, and some of them participated in peaceful demonstrations in their communities.
As frustration and anger over systemic racism spread worldwide, and sympathy for the plight of black Americans, WBCA formed the Social Justice Task Force Resolve race relations. According to WBCA, the task force “will lead the association to actively work to improve racial relations, combat racism and promote sports, all track and field and social justice for the entire society.”
The following is a summary of the topics discussed by the group.
About empowering student athletes and ongoing conversations
“I think for us, we must give them a chance so that they can spend these memorable moments and become…fragile. I also said to them that they do have a say, if they want to use this voice , Then here is your platform, but you have to arm yourself with knowledge. We work in the South and work in South Carolina, which has a deep history of racism. I haven’t experienced it in the 12 years I coached here. But , If you open a history book, you will know it can be read.
I just tell our players, if you want to use your own voice, if you want to change for a long time, then you must understand that there will be some people who disagree with you, they will not stay in touch with your point of view. Therefore, you must have some knowledge to go out and applaud, because you just can’t say a statement and do something, but just put it aside and hang up. Someone responded to this.
Let me give an example. I did Player Forum. I just expressed my heart in that particular article. Then, we had a radio character, only listened to a sentence, and then tried to stir the pot. That sentence is, “I understand why people are rioting.” I can understand, I don’t have to agree, but I can understand. And, if that stirred the pot, that sentence. Did you know that sentence explains why my mother left this state? not yet.
Therefore, it all depends on the perspective, how people view things, their views are the same as my reality, but I think this will never disappear. We will have to face a long time… Moreover, we must have uncomfortable conversations with everyone, not only our players, not only our fans or managers, so that we can make changes systematically. It must come from above, then from the police, if they do not rule themselves, then it must come from above them.
Well, one of the most important things I have been trying to do is to let them have their own voice, find their voice, use their voice to use their platform, and know that I support them 100%.
In 2014, my team wore a “I can’t breathe” T-shirt to warm up before the game. We have suffered some blows…We have suffered some rebounds. But we know what we are doing, and we know what we represent. And I think this is very important.
It takes courage to stand up and fight for your beliefs. You will always have someone who disagrees with you, some of them more intense than others. There was a death threat at that time, and many very bad things happened to our team, but we were united because we were united.
I think it’s important for me to do it right, especially as a white head coach. I think it’s important to hear the voices of the people you’re coaching, let them speak, and truly welcome everything they have. You will hear some negative opinions about them. I think it’s important to understand their stories.
But more importantly, I think the biggest thing we can do is hire people who look like them. We want someone to be on our employees. We must have colored women in the staff. We must have people that everyone can contact. I think this is the most important thing I can do. I think one thing I did.
Dialogue is very, very difficult. They are difficult because I am trying to have a dialogue with the children, they are very emotional dialogue. And at least I come from a place that represents my age. And the color of my skin. I represent the person who bears the greatest responsibility for what happened today. This is how I am, this is my age.
This is not just about the police station… You know, when I was an immigrant, it was easy for me, because until I was a child, I opened my mouth and no one knew that I was Italian. However, if you are a black child in my class, when you walk out of the gate, you will not hide. Therefore, it is a daily problem since you were born.
This has nothing to do with “Black Lives Matter”, only when the police take someone’s life. This is crucial to the life of a five-year-old black man, where they go to school. What community do they live in? What opportunities can they expect and why? Therefore, I try to get my players to look at their residences and look at your community with their own eyes. See where you grew up, because that’s where everything starts when you go home. You are a voter. You need to find a way to contact and change the situation near you. In any case, first of all, influence anything at the national level in the community of your town or community. Because those people are making decisions that affect children of your age. Who is the mayor and who is the school board? Who is the division supervisor? Who are the health and education people in town? They are the people who will affect your life every day… Then what happens on campus, you know, we are a campus dominated by white people, all things related to it. Therefore, every time I talk, I ask questions and listen to what they say, only providing the experience of white people in the 1960s.
About having a diverse coaching team
We still have a long way to go. We are far from where we should go, and all head coaches there have a responsibility to really look at their employees and make sure they are diverse in terms of employees so that these young women can look up and look at the roles. Build models and see the people they are really related to and talk to. I think this is very important, especially among the head coaches we have no control over [who] Recruitment of sports directors…but of course we can control our employees, this is where we start. We provide them with training to prepare them to become good coaches.
About being a black coach
I am a black coach in South Carolina. I can teach my players what non-black coaches can’t do, they just can’t. They cannot teach you how to travel through life like black people because you have not armed what we armed. You don’t know what you mean until you can switch positions. It’s just that it can be put into our work with just a little switching.
However, when you are black, you will receive racist comments or experiences throughout your life, which will continue to exist. Then, when there is a problem with media like this, you internalize it and there is nowhere to go. This is why I said we were tired. We are tired of having to defend this. tired. The murder of George Floyd freed all imagination from the brutal behavior of the police. Due to the brutal behavior of the police, you may not always see it. You were pulled, you went to the community. You die between the two. We have to say that it may not have happened that way. Maybe, maybe it’s just that you know it’s a different health condition than you knew before. You can survive by bringing all these things up. we do not have [Floyd]. We saw him hold his breath, and we pleaded again. This makes it a reality.
Education in the sports sector
Each sports department has many coaches who have never taught black people in sports… and they have not gained any experience from them. So sometimes they don’t even know what we’re talking about. And some administrators really don’t know what is being discussed here today, or there are only one or two administrators in a group of twenty. You know, so throughout the education stage, this is what we can do as a basketball project…
The police station on campus is the first police station to interact with many children. We hope that the police chief and his representatives will explain to us their work, how they do things and why and answer our children’s concerns. These are all easy things to do. But no one wants to hear what to say and what to do next at these meetings.
Regarding respect, making players vulnerable and anti-racist
I think we can all agree that we need to get out of the comfort zone. Of course, this is how we grow. However, I think it’s important to have a support group. As Carolyn said, we must learn to respect each other and reduce our judgment. Try to wear a little on each other’s shoes. And I think you can study in the dressing room and live with various people in the team. I think that is really healthy. But change starts with you. I mean, when you hear the wrong message, you must start accepting it. You must stand up and fight racism. You can’t just say, you know, I think it’s wrong. You really have to stand up and have the courage to stand up for others.
I do think you must have an environment where I don’t think the coach is involved. Because I think that, historically, our players have performed better when they are not participating in games, or are more vulnerable when we are not.
This post is written by Cheryl Coward