“BLACK LIVES MATTER”
Within the first three seconds of a one-minute video, the purpose was clear. Black student-athletes are no longer allowing themselves to be muted, as they want to be seen as more than just athletes representing the name on the front of the jersey.
In conjunction with Villanova’s media production team, The 13%, a group Black student-athletes on Villanova’s campus, put together a video that was released to the public.
“The meaning for 13% is because that is the percentage of Black student-athletes at ‘Nova, but it is also the percentage of Blacks in America,” volleyball and women’s track and field junior Sanaä Barnes said when explaining the name of the group.
Those featured in the video, including Barnes, Qadir Ismail of football, Joia McKinney of women’s water polo, and many others have come to the forefront to express themselves and how they fit within the University as a student-athlete of color on campus.
“Our athleticism does hide our Blackness,” the student-athletes said in part of the video. “This is our problem too.”
With the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd over the last couple months at the hands of police, peaceful protesters have taken to the streets to express their outrage. While major media outlets have moved away from covering and discussing police brutality Black Lives Matter, Black student-athletes are telling the entire Villanova community that it is not just a movement, but rather a way of life each and every day.
“These modern day lynchings have to be acknowledged for what they are. Lynchings,” the student-athletes said in the video. “The violent nature of police brutality is a direct result of systemic racism and policy since the birth of our country.”
More than a few Black student-athletes from Villanova have found their own ways to protest the deaths of Arbery, Taylor and Floyd. Women’s track and field graduate student Danielle Burns released a letter via social media to explain what it means to be a black woman and student-athlete on Villanova’s campus, and what the University needs to do better to support its Black student-athletes in a such a troubling time.
Isaiah Alicea, a 2019 graduate who played football at Villanova, released a poem titled “Student-Athlete,” in which he expressed the stark difference in what it means to wear the Villanova uniform during the day and be recognized as one of the “good ones.” Alicea goes into detail about what happens when the uniform comes off and being seen as just any other Black person at night who runs the risk of being brutalized by police like many others before them.
Senior men’s basketball player and team captain Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree led a peaceful protest of his own in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pa. With a group of fellow college basketball players, as well as high school players from the city, Cosby-Roundtree and others walked through the West Philadelphia streets dribbling basketballs and expressing the fact that police officers themselves are not the only problem, but the pre-existing system that allows them to have so much power over Black and Brown bodies.
Now, Black student-athletes have taken the next step in how to approach the movement. Led by Barnes, Ismail and McKinney, these three are the leaders of The 13%, and are calling on the University and members of the Villanova community to stand with them going forward.
“The uncomfortableness that this video brings is just a small taste of what it feels like to be Black in America every day,” Ismail said at the end of the video. “Stand with us to make a change by educating yourself and the future generations to come. So, we can fight the bondage that grips this country.
The link to the full video is here on Twitter.