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BREAKING: TMU Bold women’s basketball team issues call to action; ‘The celebration of Black experiences should not be seen as a choice’

By Jack MacCool

The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) women’s basketball team issued a call to action on March 16 in response to a lack of “branded initiatives” by TMU’s department of Athletics and Recreation during Black History Month.

“As Black student-athletes, we feel neglected by not being prioritized during the month that celebrates our history,” the statement read.

The call to action was posted to the team’s social accounts and website this afternoon. 

In the statement, the team said the call to action was a continuation of a stance they took on Feb. 18, when they knelt during the national anthem prior to the team’s final regular season game against Brock University. 

The team also wore all-black t-shirts as opposed to their regular warmup jerseys.

“The celebration of Black experiences should not be seen as a choice, as they have been historically marginalized or ignored,” reads the statement. “Our realities prevent us from the luxury of choosing to ignore Black history, discrimination and the depth of systemic issues.”

Members of the team said in the statement that they have met with the athletic department’s administration since Feb. 18 in order to share their feelings. The call to action added that the department has readily accepted the team’s criticism and agreed on immediate steps in response. 

The department has said it would establish a BIPOC Working Committee which will oversee various initiatives that will ensure recognition and celebration through TMU Bold media channels and at game day events. 

The BIPOC Working Committee will work with TMU’s athletics department to ensure that a communication plan is developed and delivered annually through the creation of a devoted webpage on the TMU athletics website.

According to the call to action, the new webpage will include their values and inclusion statement, the names of those on the committee, contact information and links to campus and professional resources as well as Athletics and Recreation’s Equity Diversity and Inclusion calendar.

All of these steps are to be completed under recommendation timelines included in the statement. The committee members must be established by March 20, hold its first meeting during March and submit recommendations to the athletic department by April 30. 

Three players on the team knelt again for a second time during the pre-game anthem on Feb. 22. 

“I just felt like there’s been a lack of Black History Month initiatives and actions from the athletic department and TMU in general,” Uwayesu told The Eyeopener after the game. 

“Being a Black student-athlete—a Black woman student-athlete—not seeing that sort of representation and also seeing it at other schools, I feel it doesn’t show who we are and doesn’t go to show our identities.” 

“I think for me, having that stance and showing people, ‘hey we are a school that’s changing our name for a reason. We’re doing what we are doing because we are validating the identities of every individual student that we have.’ Showcasing that stance goes to show the individuality of every student-athlete.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information is provided.

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