Editor’s note: This story was part of a group of 2020 stories that shared the 2021 Student Keystone Media Award for DIVERSITY. Reporters: Ty Daubert and Kevin McLaughlin.
Many have made their voices heard in the fight against systemic racism is recent months, and athletes are no exception to that.
As the Black Lives Matter movement came to the spotlight following the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police, a countless number of people have spoken out against racism in the United States and across the world. Athletes at Cabrini have used their voices to bring attention to their experiences and to bring awareness to the cause.
Rising junior men’s basketball player Voshon Mack recently said that he has felt the impact of racism in many places and times as a Black person, including at Cabrini.
“I feel like I’m discriminated against almost every day,” he said. “Yes, I had a situation on campus where I felt discriminated against.”
In an effort to combat this kind of racism and discrimination, Mack encourages people to fight for the causes they believe in, since these are still issues that are very much prevalent today.
“Over the past few months, I feel that people are waking up and seeing that racism still exists in this country,” Mack said.
A rising senior on the women’s soccer and basketball teams, Brianna Blair issued a statement on Cabrini’s website last month regarding racism and ways to fight against it. She provided information about racism and her experiences, as well as educational resources and opportunities to donate to the cause.
“I guess I just want to help make students — whether it’s at Cabrini or in general — feel safer … but also to educate people that might not know that they’re doing something wrong,” Blair said as to why she wanted to speak out.
In addition to making that statement, Blair, who is biracial — her father is African American and her mother is white — has participated in video calls with both sides of her family to talk about race and their experiences. Blair also attended a local protest and started a book club with friends where they are reading “So You Want to Talk About Race.”
Keith Blassingale, a senior on this past year’s men’s basketball team, said that Black athletes and Black people in general have many extra challenges they have to go through because of racism.
“We are at an overall disadvantage and have to work 10 times harder just to get where we want to get to in life,” Blassingale said. “It’s been like that for decades, but we understand that and all of us are up for the challenge and embrace it.”
Blassingale also called for everyone to realize the problems that exist in today’s society, and to come together to solve them.
“I was naive and numb to my surroundings too. That’s in the past now,” he said, “and now it’s time to come together and become stronger than ever.
“Time to educate the ones around us and not be afraid to step on people’s toes and lose friends. Time for people to understand the meaning of why everything is going on right now, and why we need justice and reform.”