“We thank the many police officers who strive every day to do the right thing and keep us safe, and we require accountability for the small handful who abuse their power and stain the work of their colleagues.” -President Clayton Rose (Friday, May 29, 2020)
Imagine the feeling when the president of your college thanks the perpetrators of police brutality rather than rightfully condemning them.
Imagine the feeling when your organization must host a campus-wide discussion on racial disparities and exclusion because College administrators failed to act in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
Imagine the feeling when the same people who reached out to thank you for an amazing discussion, sharing their excitement to fight for inclusion at Bowdoin, choose to be silent a few months later.
Imagine the feeling when your administrators communicate extensive plans for remote learning but fail to implement any future goals of increased diversity and inclusion at your college.
Imagine the feeling when your athletic department fails to support athletes of color, forcing you to do the work of a diversity administrator for free.
Imagine stretching your schedule not only to be there for your family and yourself during the COVID-19 crisis but also to make necessary social change.
Welcome to my life as a leader of the Athletes of Color Coalition (AoCC).
It is no secret that athletes are some of the most privileged students on Bowdoin’s campus. We are some of the most visible people on campus because of the gear we proudly wear and the dedication we have to our teams. Athletes of color, however, become both hypervisible and invisible.
We become hypervisible as some of the most decorated athletes on campus, yet we are invisible in the white-dominated athletic scene, often dismissed in our call for inclusion and diversity.
It is unacceptable for the issues of athletes of color to be deemed invisible. We are not just athletes who sacrifice for the team or bring it to victory, and we are not on campus just to bolster the diversity percentage. We are people who face discrimination and issues of inclusion. We are so much more than just our skin color, ethnicity or athletic ability.
Too often I have been told that it is not the job of a person of color to educate others on topics of diversity, inclusion and race. If it is not my job, then why do I still hear the N-word thrown around at a party?
Why do athletes of color feel uncomfortable on their teams and in this athletic culture we have created?
Why has no change been implemented?
With others’ silence indicating a clear dismissal of the issue, we choose to step up and educate athletes, administrators and other students on issues surrounding diversity, race and inclusion.
We demand to be heard, we demand respect and we demand change.
Manveer Sandhu is a member of the Class of 2022.