Ivy hoops community continues to reflect on racial injustice

Nearly a month after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis officer while three other officers stood by, the Ivy hoops community has continued to speak out against racial injustice and in support of people of color.

Another introspective from Nat Graham

Penn men’s associate head coach and 1997 graduate Nat Graham, who is White, on Sunday published a post on Medium thoughtfully reflecting on the structural advantages his race gave him in life and the “not so equal” separation between his Miami neighborhood and that of his Black high school teammate who Graham found out later eventually got his teeth knocked out while in prison.

Graham writes:

A couple years ago, after the reunion with my friend, I got pissed at my three kids. I was mad that they weren’t appreciating their mother and the lifestyle they’ve been provided. I got them in our mini-van and drove to West Philly, not much more than a mile from our house. I drove down the blocks, along a street where businesses had been boarded up. Down streets where row homes were cramped together, porches and roofs sagging, paint chipping, too much trash left on the streets, people outside in the heat because it was hotter inside. I angrily told my kids that the only thing different from these people and us, from these kids and them, was that we were born in a zip code where we had a chance. I told them that they had been fortunate enough to be born white. To have the chance to go to the schools they do, to play sports, go to camps, to do so many things they take for granted. Had they been born in this zip code; those things would be unlikely at best. They stared at me slack jawed. I told them that the only reason why the people we passed had to live here was because they were black and there parent and grandparents were black, and our country had decided over and over again, to do all that it could to make sure they would remain relegated to these streets, these houses, these schools.

Graham has written reflections on racial inequality in America on Medium before, and his latest piece is another must-read.

James Jones sounds off on racial injustice

The dean of Ivy men’s hoops coaches, Yale head coach James Jones, gave a powerful and heartrending account to the Connecticut Post of the pain and exclusion he has felt as a Black man in his life, even while jogging in the New Haven area:

“Most of the time I wave, I wave at other joggers. If the person is not of color, I rarely ever have anyone respond in kind. They don’t look at me. They just keep moving in another direction.

“It’s something I try not to think on, because you don’t understand people. I’m jogging in the opposite direction of you, what am I going to do, stop and try to have a conversation? What can I possibly do to hurt you? I’m not running away from anyone. I don’t have anything. It’s unfortunate.”

Jones had more thoughts on the resistance that the Black Lives Matter movement has encountered:

“Every time these things happen, people who are against Black Lives Matter want to change the narrative. So it goes from Colin Kaepernick taking a knee to, ‘Oh, you’re disrespecting my flag.’ No, this has nothing to do with your flag, man. I’m not trying to disrespect the flag. As a matter of fact, Kaepernick went to a veteran (retired Green Beret Nate Boyer), and he told him he should take a knee. What’s disrespectful about taking a knee? He didn’t turn his back on the flag. He didn’t put a fist up like in the (1968) Olympics. He’s taking a freaking knee. But our president and people turned it into something else. It’s all smoke and mirrors. You don’t want to deal with the tough conversation about inequalities and racism, so you make it about something else.”

The Ivy League on Wednesday announced designating Election Day (Nov. 3) as a day off from any required athletics activity, less than a week after the NCAA recommended that all schools do so. The Ivy League said it welcomes the perspective and recommendations from all to ensure sustained discussion and meaningful progress by emailing IdeasForChange@IvyLeague.com. The league’s announcement followed member programs and schools saying they would make Election Day free of athletics to encourage student-athletes and staff to vote. Georgia Tech assistant Eric Reveno was instrumental in the push to make Election Day a mandated NCAA off day for athletic programs nationwide.

2020 vision 

Harvard men’s head coach Tommy Amaker earlier this month wrote a column for the Harvard Crimson touting “2020 vision” in 2020:

“One of the benefits of technology, and video in particular, is that it “opens our eyes.” It makes all of us see and feel things differently. Maybe you heard about “the George Floyd video;” but when you saw it, I bet you felt differently. In the past days we have yet again seen the deep divide that still exists in our country. We have seen the reality that race is still very much a factor in American life, and that communities of color disproportionately suffer socially, politically and economically. We have seen our nation struggle in the face of a global pandemic. We have seen a lack of compassionate leadership accelerate so many of these problems. None of this is breaking news. We have known about it. But now, we have all seen it — with “2020 vision.”

“Every generation has moments that define it. I believe we are in one of those moments now. Whether you are black and wealthy, white and poor, or anything in between, you have a role in this. I believe you don’t choose your destiny; destiny chooses you. Destiny has chosen. To our nation’s young people: you have been taught. Now is the time to lead. And please know, we are here to serve you.”

Justin Bassey, a 2020 Harvard graduate who played under Amaker, referenced his former coach’s column in sharing his own thoughts in a Be Yourself post. Bassey expanded on Amaker’s focus on “20/20 vision”:

2020 marks the first time that I’ve witnessed the typical bystander take a stand. 20/20 vision means that we see you. We see not only blatant racism, but subtle forms of racial inequality as well. We see discrimination across education, health, and opportunity. We see unwillingness to support a hurting population.

Amaker is co-chair of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Committee on Racial Reconciliation and in a joint statement with fellow co-chair Frank Martin on the committee’s behalf Monday called on governing bodies of secondary and higher education to establish African-American History as a course requirement for graduation.

“Throughout our committee’s initial discussions, an immediate observation was the overall lack of awareness of the history and issues facing the African-American community,” Amaker and Martin said. “If our country is indeed going to make the necessary strides towards combating racism and injustice, the topic must become a core component of every American’s educational experience.”

Sideline Posts published

The Sideline Post, the writing platform website for college athletes founded by Penn women’s hoops sophomore Kayla Padilla, published posts last week from Boston University women’s hoopster Chiara Tibbitt, Virginia women’s soccer player Claire Constant, UC Davis football player Algery McGuire III and Concordia University Irvine (Division II) women’s hoopster Jasmine Rachal with their respective perspectives on racial injustice and inequality in America. Padilla explained to The Daily Pennsylvanian in an article on The Sideline Post that ran earlier this month that the site is modeled after The Players Tribune with a focus on college athletes, including those from Division II and III.

Following his heart

Reynaldo Crossman recently announced he was stepping down as the Yale men’s director of basketball operations after COVID-19 and “the constant reminder of racism in America” left him concerned for the nation’s youth:

Crossman told the Yale Daily News that his next move following his two-season tenure at Yale will still involve basketball.

Big Red show support for Black lives 

The Cornell women’s basketball Twitter account recently shared a list of Black-owned businesses in the Ithaca area in a show of support …

… and photos from a Black Lives Matter protest in Ithaca:

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr joined Princeton Athletics via teleconference last week to speak about the importance of championing social justice reform, ways to impact communities and organizational team-building, per the Princeton Tigers Twitter account. Princeton men’s hoops coach Mitch Henderson called it a “great discussion” on his new Twitter account, which he started this month by touting the importance of voting:


Henderson’s new Twitter account is not to be confused with his little-used old one.

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