The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Athletes of Color Collective creating community

By Caitlin Opperman

While student-athletes abound on campus, only a few are athletes of color, a fact Clara Younge ’12 knows all too well and one she is trying to change. Younge, a member of the soccer team, recently started the Athletes of Color Collective, a group aimed at bringing together students who identify as both athletes and people of color.”I feel like there is a really big divide between athletes and the rest of campus and between people of color and the rest of campus, so for athletes of color there is an even bigger divide,” Younge said. “I feel like athletes of color are forced to choose [between identities] and that a lot of athletes choose athletics and don’t really engage with cultural orgs. I wanted to create a space where both identities could co-exist.”

The creation of such a comfort zone is exactly what Celeste Prince ’10, a sprinter on the women’s track team, is hoping for.

“The way it stands now, there’s probably an average of two students of color on every team, save for a few exceptions,” Prince said. “The MIAC is also a predominantly white conference, which can make for a hostile environment at times for athletes of color.”

Prince specifically cited last year’s racial and homophobic incident that occurred during a men’s water polo game versus Monmouth College.

Derrick Minor, assistant football coach and faculty facilitator of the collective, believes the college has a responsibility to student-athletes of color.

“The AOC [collective] is important because student-athletes of color like all students need to be able to immerse within a culture that embraces, supports, empowers and feeds their social as well as their athletic senses of self,” Minor said. “It is imperative that institutions of higher learning understand that when you bring students of color onto your campus, there need to be programs, clubs, organizations, a place in the community to worship, and relationships with communities of color that are in proximity to the school.”

The Athletes of Color Collective is a step in this direction and has drawn support from both the Athletic Department and the Department of Multicultural Life. Younge has also drawn inspiration from other collectives and discussions on campus. In fact, she originally came up with the idea for an Athletes of Color Collective after attending a Tapas series event about gender identity in sports.

Younge and student co-facilitator Khoury Daher ’12, a member of the football team, hosted the collective’s first meeting Thursday, April 8. Approximately 12 to 15 people attended the meeting.

“In our first meeting, I wanted to impress upon them the importance of understanding that, no matter what their objective is or the issue at hand, they are one with equal and interchangeable wholes,” Minor said. “Meaning, every step they take needs to be taken together as one, with their mission and vision firmly in mind.”

Possible steps include hosting campus discussions, reaching out to coaches for support of athletes of color, and working toward recruiting more athletes of color to Macalester.

Prince envisions more solidarity for athletes of color, overall.

“We cannot talk about multiculturalism in the classroom and not have it on the playing field,” she said.

The Athletes of Color Collective plans to have one more meeting before the end of the semester.

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