Say YES! Talk about racism. Everyone knows a bit about sports, every person you meet today will know something, be it local or national or global about sports. Open The Conversation.
This can be the most empowering and life affirming thing you will do today. Certainly it is different, it could be making you nervous to even consider talking about racism in sports teams' identities--or in the latest pseudo-psych speak it might be "anxiety inducing"--AND it just might open an entire new world to you and each person you engage in conversation, speak with, video with, write to or IM with.
You may ask why I believe this. Legitimate question. Here is the real world answer: I have lived it and know that having meaning in life matters. Challenging something as insidious as racism in team identities IS worthwhile. When done well it can be fun. It is absolutely never boring.
I have brought up the subject of racism in sports teams' identities--best spoken slowly so others can get their heads around what you are saying--to literally hundreds of people both individually and in groups so I do have real world experience in the subject. From this experience I have learned a few things, first and foremost, people do care, if approached nicely. To Open The Conversation remember that examples help, so does friendliness and always be sure to add in the occasional question. People get interested when it involves them, their families, communities and friends. Sports and teams involve everyone, somehow. You can ask how everyone feels when their team is winning. Questions are great to Open The Conversation.
Examples can anchor the conversation: the "R" team name tied to Washington D.C. NFL team, the Cleveland, Ohio MLB team, local school teams with indigenous and Native American identities are signifcant since they promote and teach racism to children, national teams and leagues business sponsors profit from racism impact us all--especially true given many leagues' business structures and contracts for game broadcasts, and any current news headlines on the topic. linking the teams, leagues and schools to American communitites and businesses still teaches and supports racism--and does get people's attention. These are all true even if many people are not yet aware of the facts. Truth is very difficult to argue with or dismiss. So be gentle and kind since again, in my experience, most people do not understand the entire situation. I think that everyone generally does the best they can in life given what they know at any given time and what they think they can do. Don't you do this in your own life? When you Open The Conversation you are giving someone powerful new ideas by asking them truly important questions. Keep it simple Basically you can ask around the toipic of racist team identities:
Now the conversation is started. Easy wasn't it? Think about some answers, for the past, for presenting today's reality and for how we can move forward into a better tomorrow since we absolutely cannot change yesterday. By moving for change we can make today good since status quo is status not good and soemtimes status truly bad. No one wants this, not really.
Kindly and positively wrap up the ideas you exchange, always politely and calmly--anger and hostility will defeat so if the person you are reaching out to gets angry or hostile stay calm, be polite and just maybe you will reach....
In the 21st century we can do and be better. Say so. Tell others. Inspire. It is the truth, right? We can absolutely come up with team names that are not racially linked in any way. This is important since people have been and are today still killing each other over identity. We do NOT want to or need to continue teaching racism through team identities. This is a very simple ask, a very positive idea. It is easy to share. We can take one step forward. Together. When you Open The Conversation the person you are conversing with knows automatically that they are not alone. We can all do and be better. One person at a time. I have Started The Conversation here, for all of us, again and today. Will you OPEN The Conversation in your life, today? Then you can take and suggest next steps......
Your next step in your new conversation is to simply suggest any of several of actions:
- Share links to this website www.RacismIsNotAGame.com and others dealing with the issues,
- ask the person in the conversation if they would like to be involved in efforts to change team names,
- ask them to share the conversation with others and
- certainly ask them to consider not buying fan merchandise from the leagues or teams.
You can stop at one ask, share possibilities and even brainstorm with them if they are really excited and interested. They can support their favorite teams through:
- buying clothes with team colors but not logos
- not buying sponsored merchandise from the leagues,
- using homemade signs to support their teams, without the racist images,
- use social media to point out the racist team identities,
- write letters, organize letter writing groups, challenge local schools using racist team identities be they indigenous or Native American in origin
There is always something anyone you are talking with can do...even sharing your conversation is a start. They too can Open The Conversation. The vast majority of people are not racist. You are giving them a chance to show their world, their friends, loved ones and community this truth: they are good people. Most people are willing to consider next steps. I speak from experience. You can too, if you.......Open The Conversation.