Recently, senior Basketball Captain Allie Murphy has led efforts within the Girls’ Basketball team to bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement. Murphy decided to use her leadership position after being inspired by an article where two students who wore BLM warmup shirts had their game suspended. Her efforts place an emphasis on education and perspective, with her current goal being to host one new guest speaker per week, before or after practice.
So far, speakers have included former players Mariam and Nia Diaby, as well as current player Mya Dawson and manager Manaal Ahmed, with plans to host the Vice President of the NAACP in the future. On top of the education aspect, some team members choose to kneel during the National Anthem and wear BLM warmup shirts provided through a partnership with the Black Student Union before the game. “It was more thought out than just asking or making everyone wear a warm up shirt. The awareness piece is what I’m really excited about because that’s the goal and the whole purpose and the reason around it,” assistant varsity coach Kevin Chant said. Murphy also curates baskets with snacks and relevant articles for each visiting team. This is not the first instance of protest through the team; however, it is the first to incorporate the speakers and apparel.
Many Edina students face racism on a regular basis whether it be from other students, community members, or teachers. Ahmed and Dawson have spoken to the team about their experience with racism in Edina and the importance of allyship. “I’ve had close [former friends] that would make fun of me a lot and wouldn’t realize they were making fun of my race…I touched on those things and how to be aware…and how to use your white privilege for good,” Ahmed said. Ahmed and Dawson cite Murphy’s drive to go beyond mere virtue signalling as a reason why they support her efforts. “She’s a big supporter and ally and advocate overall, and [she] does more than just post a black screen or do performative activism,” Ahmed said.
Murphy first brought up the idea of the initiative to her fellow captains who voiced their support. From there she spoke with head coach and former player, Jaime Gaard, who recalls her time on the team compared with her role as the team coach: “The landscape of the Edina student body is definitely different than when I played so there simply wasn’t enough conversation around these topics as there are now,” Gaard said. With the support of captains and coaches, Murphy had a conversation with Edina High School Athletic Director Troy Stein who also voiced his approval.
Ultimately, the team’s goal is to foster conversations on systemic racism and to encourage the community to learn more. Growing up, Murphy’s family placed an emphasis on having conversations around racism, and Murphy aims to inspire more discussion. “My goal is to bring awareness to this because it is something that can’t go ignored…if people start having these hard conversations, I’ve done my job and I’m going to continue to do it,” Murphy said. Dawson hopes more individuals and teams will pursue similar action with the goal of truly supporting BLM rather than utilizing it as a way to gain clout. “The goal is to have everyone understand what [people of color] go through on a daily basis… [and to] understand what it really means,” Dawson said.
The team will continue to host speakers and provide warm up shirts to those who want them. Most recently, the team has partnered with Hopkin’s Girls’ Basketball who also wore BLM shirts. “It doesn’t just end with the shirts. I tell every team when I give them the shirts, you not only are showing your support and allyship for BLM, but are committing to further your education about BLM,” Murphy said.