‘Do I look more dangerous than a white man?’: Sac State athletes speak on social justice issues
September 29, 2020
Sacramento State athletes have joined professionals such as Naomi Osaka and LeBron James in initiating the conversation about social justice.
With the pandemic forcing courses to be held virtually this year and the NCAA giving every athlete another year of eligibility whether they have a season in the spring or not, some students have chosen to focus on social justice during this time.
Senior volleyball player Macey Haydenn said she has been taking advantage of social media platforms in her free time by spreading educational information about social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It didn’t start this year,” Haydenn said. “All this stuff didn’t start this year — this has been going on since Black people were in slavery.”
Haydenn said she appreciates the opportunity to be able to speak out and refine her voice on subjects that matter to her. In the last few months, she said she has been recognizing a more frequent pattern of ignorance in people close to her.
Haydenn said people swipe up on her Instagram posts about social justice to vehemently disagree with her, but this does not bother her because she believes and respects that everyone has an opinion.
Story continues below Instagram post.
“My dad’s Black and my mom’s white, so I got a little bit of each side,” Haydenn said. “I got fear from the Black side, I got the talks about how to act when you get pulled over by the police and I do have my own type of privilege because I am light-skinned, where I’m not experiencing the same things as people who are darker than me.”
RELATED: OPINION: Defunding the police is the only option left
Senior running back Elijah Dotson said being born and raised in Sacramento gave him the opportunity to see firsthand how his community protested in a way that wasn’t destructive, but instead demanded equality in the way it could.
“For there to be a pandemic and then have wildfires and a social justice movement happen all at the same time, football seems very small right now — we do what we can,” Dotson said. “You never really expect something of this caliber.”
Dotson said the Sacramento community is trying to create equality with the voices it has because people in Black and brown communities should not be living their lives like this.
RELATED: Demonstrations against racial injustice advance through greater Sacramento area
“There seems to be a standard for how to treat each race and if your skin is darker, it’s worse. Do I look more dangerous than a white man?”
Sac State senior running back Elijah Dotson lines up for a drill during training camp on Aug. 12, 2019 at the practice field. Dotson is a Sacramento native and says he wants social awareness and equality for his community.
“There seems to be a standard for how to treat each race and if your skin is darker, it’s worse,” Dotson said. “Do I look more dangerous than a white man?”
Dotson said that despite race being a complicated and complex topic, he still thinks it is important to bring that consciousness and social awareness to conversations on campus.
“When we say Black lives matter, we don’t mean that we’re the only lives that matter. We’re the only ones in trouble,” Dotson said.
Sac State senior wide receiver Isaiah Gable said he has also been outspoken about the Black Lives Matter movement because it is personal to him.
Gable recalled the story of how he and his friend were walking to a store when a police car drove by, turned around and stopped them. Once out of the car, the police officer instructed the boys to hold their hands up above their heads.
“He just patted us down and was talking rowdy to us, for no reason,” Gable said.
Even though Gable and his friend only had cellphones and money in their pockets, a second police car was called to assist the first police officer.
“One of the guys started being rowdy with my friend, just police harassment,” Gable said. “And another had his hand on his gun the whole time, like we were about to do something.”
Gable said the encounter felt horrible, and he thought it was ridiculous that he was targeted for the color of his skin.
“As long as we keep fighting, we’re going to find justice,” Gable said.
Gable said he is behind the new mandated requirement of an ethnic studies course for the California State University system. The football player himself is majoring in ethnic studies.
RELATED: New ethnic studies requirement signed into law by Gov. Newsom
“Although it is tiring to have to explain the issues over and over, but for us — that misunderstanding is the barrier that needs to be broken.”
Sac State senior guard Brandon Davis driving to the rim, getting by his defender at the Nest against Montana State on Thursday, Feb. 27. Davis says him and his teammates have come together and talked about racism and inequality.
Senior point guard Brandon Davis said the Sac State basketball team has been organizing Zoom calls to have a space to discuss what could be done as a team to combat racism and unlearn prejudices.
“Although it is tiring to have to explain the issues over and over, but for us — that misunderstanding is the barrier that needs to be broken,” Davis said.
Story continues below tweet.
“I think it’s going to take a lot of patience, as we’ve been forced to show over years, centuries and decades against racism,” Davis said.
Although senior forward Bryce Fowler from Sac State’s basketball team is white, he said he recognizes the importance of having white people also speak out against racism.
“I’ve posted stuff on Twitter and Instagram and I’ve had a couple of family members unfollow me because they disagree with how I feel, so it’s opened my eyes even more,” Fowler said. “It’s just not right. I just don’t understand how someone can think that killing innocent Black people is okay and there to be no consequences for their actions.”
Junior Samaad Hector said the Sac State basketball team has been trying its best to push through 2020 despite the global pandemic and current social political climate.
“We shouldn’t be living like that, we’re always targeted. It doesn't matter what you look like. If you’re Black, you’re gonna be a target and that’s just not right, that needs to change.”
“As a Black man in America, I’m sick and tired of leaving my house afraid that I’m not going to return home, afraid that I’m not going to speak to my mom the next day, and that’s not how somebody should be living,” Hector said. “We shouldn’t be living like that, we’re always targeted. It doesn't matter what you look like. If you’re Black, you’re gonna be a target and that’s just not right, that needs to change.”
The Sac State men’s basketball team is one of many athletic groups that registered every member of its team to vote in an attempt to get athletes prepared to participate in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.
“President 45 is not helping us, he’s not on our side so it’s important to encourage everybody to vote because he’s not with us,” Hector said. “We need change.”