As NBA Legend, activist, and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recently put it: “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.” We, the undersigned members of the Sports Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association, agree with Abdul-Jabbar and stand in solidarity with those demonstrating against racism and police brutality. We affirm that Black Lives Matter and that the American police and carceral state (along with ICE and the military) should be defunded and their resources redistributed to uplift BIPOC communities. We say their names: Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and many more.

We seek to highlight the work of activist athletes who have stepped to the forefront in this moment, attending protests and using their media platforms to affirm the urgent necessity of anti-racist action and structural change, because, as Dr. Rashawn Ray has reminded us, “public pressure from our athletes matters.” In particular, former NBA player Stephen Jackson, a personal friend of George Floyd, has been a powerful voice for change, along with many other NBA players, both active and retired, and WNBA players like Maya Moore, Natasha Cloud, and Kristi Tolliver. Colin Kaepernick, who has never wavered in his dedication to raising awareness of police brutality, has continued his important work even as the NFL has both finally recognized the economic and political expedience of affirming Black lives and continued to blackball him. Many of the NCAA’s athletic laborers, precarious as their own situations remain under the organization’s unjust system of “amateurism,” have also marched and spoken out.

Conversely, we have also witnessed hollow and contradictory statements from organizations like the Washington and San Francisco NFL teams that continue to propagate and profit from racist indigenous slurs and the amplification of settler colonial legacies via their mascots. Such statements serve as a reminder that we must be vigilant and not allow this moment of anti-racist action to be co-opted by corporate forces of the status quo. Per ASA President Scott Kurashige, “today’s rebellions are symbols of an empire in decline and a system in crisis.” This rebellion that we are witnessing today, with the unabated realities of the epidemiological threat of Covid-19, has resulted through collective efforts of organizing and action. We stand with athlete activists, organizers, demonstrators, social actors, and scholars who are calling attention to racism, police brutality, and state violence and seek to imagine a world that is more critically inclusive, democratic, and socially just.

Rudy Mondragón
University of California, Los Angeles

Noah Cohan
Washington University in St. Louis

Daniel A. Gilbert
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Lucia Trimbur
The City University of New York (CUNY)

Emily Ruth Rutter
Ball State University

Jaime Schultz
Pennsylvania State University

Seth S. Tannenbaum

Travis Vogan
University of Iowa

Amy Bass
Manhattanville College

Erica Rand
Bates College

Stanley Thangaraj
City College of New York

Bennie Niles IV
Northwestern University

Jennifer Guiliano

John Bloom
Shippensburg University

Philip Wedge
University of Kansas

Jennifer McClearen
University of Texas at Austin

Thabiti Lewis
Washington State University Vancouver

Kyle Green
SUNY Brockport

Alex Manning
Hamilton College

Theresa Runstedtler
American University

José M. Alamillo
California State University Channel Islands

Brett Siegel
University of Texas at Austin

Annie Gilbert Coleman
University of Notre Dame

Doug Battema
Western New England University

Craig Yugawa
Washington University in St. Louis

Samantha Sheppard
Cornell University

Daniel Nathan
Skidmore College

Ben Lisle
Colby College

Rob Ruck
University of Pittsburgh

David Leonard
Washington State University

Shawn Stein
Dickinson College

Nicholas E. Miller
Valdosta State University

Glenn Houlihan
University of Wyoming

Post date: June 22, 2020

Community announcements and events are services that are offered by the ASA to support the organizing efforts of critical constituency groups. They do not reflect the decisions or actions of the association’s governance bodies, the National Council or Executive Committee. Questions should be directed to the committee, caucus, or chapter that has authored and posted this notice.