What To Say To Your Black Teammate
Written by L.A. – A collegiate student athlete
The past few weeks have been difficult. For many Black people living in the United States, the injustices that have been uncovered and protested against following the tragic deaths of Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are not new. Existing while Black feels incredibly exhausting and difficult to navigate.
In the beginning, I felt alone. I had my family and my Black friends to help me process and understand the trauma, but where I would typically expect support from my teammates, I heard mostly silence. It was devastating that people who I spent the majority of my days with, people who I would go to battle with and for, would remain silent on this human rights issue that directly relates to how I exist in the world.
After opening up to my teammates and explaining the immense hurt I felt from their silence, a couple of them admitted to me that they didn’t know how best to support me. If you’re thinking of reaching out to a teammate, but you’re not sure where to start, here are five statements to help you out:
- I see you.
I see that your life matters. I see that sometimes there are people in the world who make you feel unseen, because of racism and bias. I see the pain you may feel that comes with generations of violence exerted on Black people in this country.
- I hear you.
I hear you when you say you feel pain. I hear you when you say ‘Black Lives Matter.’ I hear you when you are in the streets, fighting for your life, but also for the lives of other Black people, gone too soon; and for the future of Black people everywhere.
- I am in solidarity with you.
I may not understand your experience, but I support you. I will make the effort to educate myself and my peers. I will be more than sympathetic, I will be an active ally. I will channel outrage and be moved to action.
- I will support and uplift you.
I will make the effort to be with you past this moment. My support isn’t here only when a Black person has been murdered, but also when racism comes rearing its ugly head and you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to fight for you.
- Your life more than matters.
Your life is deserving of love, care, and respect. Your life deserves joy. There is nothing political about life and death.
Although this may be your first time witnessing the deplorable consequences that come with living in an unequal society, I can assure you that your Black teammates live this experience daily. Taking the time to show you care will go a long way.