Humboldt State’s women’s basketball team races for racial change

5K race to protest social and racial injustices while raising money for AACAE
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5K race to protest social and racial injustices while raising money for AACAE

The Humboldt State Women’s Basketball team participated in Race For Change that started on Oct. 15 and ended Oct. 18. The event was a virtual 5k run, walk, or bike ride to bring awareness about the social and racial injustice happening. 

The team joined other universities in the California State University system in participating to raise funds in order to support the African American Center for Excellence at HSU.The team plans on making this an annual event they will continue to participate in.    

 “UC San Diego women’s basketball initiated this terrific event to athletic programs across the country and we were on board from the beginning,” Head Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson said. “We saw this as an opportunity to continue to use our voices and to put into action our passion towards social justice.  One of our main objectives in the event was to get as much participation as possible to continue to bring awareness both locally and throughout other communities.”  

The women’s basketball team raised over $1,100 and will be giving the proceeds to the AACAE. Douglas Smith, director of the AACAE, is grateful that the women’s basketball team took the initiative and supported them by participating in Race for Change.

“Funding for the Center has been a challenge since it opened its doors five years ago,” Smith said. “So this type of support will help us engage and develop a sense of belonging in the Black student community.”

The ACCAE team appreciated the HSU athletes who participated and showed their support. The other HSU teams who joined in the event were the women’s volleyball team and women’s rowing. With moving forward to next year the women’s basketball team expects an even bigger event with more participants. 

The team had numerous team discussions and individual conversations about racism and social injustice prior to the event. Samantha Caries, a junior on the team, believes that the conversations that have been happening on an individual and a national level deserve to be recognized.

“I feel like they’re finally shedding light on racism that takes place daily in the world,” Caries said. “This coverage should not go away. We are lost for words to how this is continuing to happen.” 

Caries struggled to express her frustration over the fact that the world was already forgetting about the Black Lives Matter movement and the systemic targeting of the Black community.

“To be honest, I can’t find strong enough words to fully express how strongly I feel about the social injustices, the hate, and the racism that continues to occur in our world,” Caries said.  “It disgusts me, it makes me extremely angry, and I feel sad and apologetic to the Black community.  

Bento-Jackson hoped people could open their eyes, their ears and their hearts to attempt to understand the life that the Black community and BIPOC have to endure on a daily basis and to genuinely show empathy. 

Smith expressed appreciation for the women’s basketball team providing the AACAE with the much needed funding to continue their work and dialogue within the HSU community.

“Raising awareness is one step in the long process of having honest and real change in our society,” Smith said. “This is the role the women’s basketball team assumed and it is appreciated. We all have a direct role to play with regards to addressing social injustice and how it manifests itself in the lives of so many people in this country and around the world.”

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