Evening Ram Family,
There is mourning in our streets. The pain, hurt, marches, discussions, analysis of civil unrest, questions, demands for change, and calls for unity continue in every city and town in our fractured country right now. To some of us, this is the most confusing of times, while others view that the tragic images and realities of the day have a simple explanation, as ironic as that may be, through a reflective lens upon the experiment of what we call America. I know that many of you are taking on the challenge of the cries of protests and tears of loss that flood our streets.
You are calling your teammates.
You are calling your colleagues.
You are engaged in critical debate.
You are tweeting and retweeting.
You are posting videos on social media.
You are organizing meetings with your team.
You are marching in the streets in your hometown.
You are home having the most difficult of conversations with your family and neighbors.
You are doing what you think is the best you can do and yet still energized by a desire to do more.
I have seen the emotionally charging Don’t Do It advertisement produced by Nike. I appreciate the many hashtags like #UntilWeAllWin used as a signoff to messages of unity sent out by our peers across the intercollegiate athletic community. Efforts like these all serve an important purpose right now. Yet, I know many of you want more than anything, specific answers to the question “What should I do?” As I mentioned in my last email, I have not yet found that sole answer to this daunting question. As daunting as the question of what to do can be, it may only be rivaled by a question that was asked of me last night.
A young man on our football team called me last night. He didn’t waste any time with his words. He began the conversation asking, “What do you mean when you and everyone else says that we need dialogue right now? Dialogue, for real? Tell me what dialogue really is!”
If you might excuse my own self-serving attempt to answer this question for myself, I would like to propose a living document for us to develop a list of action steps that might inspire us, challenge us, organize us, mobilize us, build us, change us, to BETTER US. I don’t claim for everything on this list to be right or what you should believe, nor do I claim this list to be exhaustive in any nature. These ideas are not my own. But they have been shared with us so that we might share with those we care about most. And I care about each of you, so this is why I am sharing.
So, what is dialogue?
Right now, this is my answer.
May this living list of actions help you and your team to bring about change that will make us better:
- Attend and speak at your city council meetings
- Attend and speak at your Student Athlete Advisory Committee Meetings
- Organize a meeting and/or team conversation with local K-12 educational leadership to discuss systemic and structural injustices at macro and micro levels
- Run for an open position (e.g. student government, fraternity/sorority leadership, student organization, SAAC, etc.)
- Organize small business support days (pay full price and tip)
- Organize a meeting and/or team conversation with representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Have team dinners at small business restaurants (pay full price and tip)
- Organize a meeting and/or team conversation with your local law enforcement including police and sheriff departments
- Attend and speak at your University Student Government meetings
- Organize a meeting and/or team conversation with your state law enforcement including state or highway patrol
- Mobilize local residents to complete their Census Data Survey
- Host a team letter writing campaign event to your local mayor/governor/senator
- Write on whatever issue is important to you. Just start writing and send your letter.
- Tell your coach that you will be taking 4 minutes to talk about a social issue of your concern at a regular team meeting
- Organize a fire side chat between your team and city/county/state/university/university system leadership
- Organize a fire side chat with local community organizers to ask who, what, when, where, why, and how.
- Organize and mobilize residents to Vote in local, state, and national elections
- Do a season long book read and discussion with a thought-provoking text:
- Tears We Cannot Stop – Michael Eric Dyson
- Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America – Ibram X. Kendi
- Nobody- Marc Lamont Hill
- What Truth Sounds Like – Michael Eric Dyson
- Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow.
- Bolgatz, J. Talking Race in the Classroom.
- Derman-Sparks, Louise, and Patricia Ramsay. What If All the Kids Are White? Anti-Bias Multicultural Education with Young Children and Families.
- Genishi, Celia, and A. Lin Goodwin. Diversities in Early Childhood Education: Rethinking and Doing.
- Irving, Debbie. Waking Up White in the Story of my Race.
- Lee, Enid, Deborah Menkart and Margo Okazawa-Rey, eds. Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education, and Staff Development. Washington, DC: Network of Educators on the Americas [NECA], 1998.
- Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.
- Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Michael, Ali. Raising Race Questions: Whiteness and Inquiry in Education.
- Pollock, M. Colormute: Race Talk Dilemmas in an American School.
- Pollock, M. (Ed.) Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School.
- Steele, Claude M. Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do.
- Stevenson, Howard C. Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools: Differences That Make a Difference.
- Tatum, B. D. “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and Other Conversations About Race.
- Tatum, B.D. “Can We Talk About Race?” and Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation.
- Van Ausdale, D. & Feagin, J.R. The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism.
- How to Be an Anti-Racist – Ibram X. Kendi
- The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
- A More Beautiful and Terrible History
- Essays by James Baldwin
- Essays by Audre Lorde
- Register for a training
- Take a training/class on public speaking. Practice in front of your team, another team, and even the athletic department
- Meet with your local judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers to discuss the structural design of our criminal justice system
- Strategize, Organize and Mobilize a discussion after watching Trevor Noah’s monologue: https://youtu.be/v4amCfVbA_c
- Strategize, Organize and Mobilize a bi-weekly teammate-to-teammate interview about a social issue
- Say their name!
- Write your own book. Read it to others.
- Write your own song. Sing it to others.
- March. Sit. Stand. Kneel. Have presence. Use your voice to speak for the unheard.
- Correct the narratives that leave out the robust truth.
- Meet with other organizations to learn about their stories, concerns and their strategies of engaged citizenry
- Learn the story of someone seemingly “different” that you.
- Understand we all cannot play the same role in our collective revolution for change. Demand all to participate. But do not expect all to play the same position in this game as you. We all have a different skill set. Identify and elevate YOUR skillset.
- Add something to this living list and pass it along to a teammate or member of our Ram Family!
Be well. You and I are the answer.
Dr. Albert Bimper Jr. (’06) is Assistant Vice President, Senior Associate Athletics Director, Program Director for Sport Management, and associate professor at CSU in Fort Collins