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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UC Davis Athletics initiative celebrates Black Futures Month

The transition from Black history to Black Futures is a nod toward present prosperity

 

By MI’ZAUNI REESE — sports@theaggie.org

 

In the U.S., the month of February is not only a time for reflection but also gratification for the Black community. As we acknowledge the historical contributions made by some of the most resilient people in our society, we also look forward to Black prosperity and advancement. 

Terms such as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Black Excellence have been introduced to curricula of both primary and higher education as our country progresses toward more equitable representation. Additionally, these terms highlight not only the importance of Black people in America but their success as well. 

Since Black History Month’s founding in 1976 by Carter G. Woodson, the month has become recognized across the country, including in the sports community. February was chosen to include the birthdays of two very important individuals who had a hand in shaping Black history, specifically President Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas. President Lincoln, whose birthday is Feb. 12, created the Emancipation Proclamation that emancipated all slaves in 1863, and Feb. 14 marks the birthday of Fredrick Douglas, the leader of the abolitionist movement.  

The UC Davis athletics department has decided to input its own efforts of equity and inclusion by honoring Black Futures Month rather than Black History Month. This transition is not to disregard Black history’s impact, existence or significance, but rather to uplift, emphasize and push Black stories of success and longevity in America.

As the initiative is through the athletics department, there have been multiple posts, articles and interviews with Black athletes on campus. One Instagram post highlights women’s basketball star, Bria Shine, a third-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major and member of the revitalist Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority chapter here at UC Davis. 

When asked “What does the term ‘Black Excellence Month’ mean to you and your lived experience?” Shine elaborated upon this idea and discussed the hardships Black people have faced, as well as the degree to which she must work to achieve the same as her non-Black counterparts. 

“I will always be unapologetically Black and celebrate my heritage by carrying my ancestors legacy, remembering the struggle and continuing to remain steadfast for the future,” she said.

As stated on a UC Davis campus flyer promoting the campus-wide change, “February marks Black Futures Month. A collective envisioning of the path for Black life at UC Davis and beyond.” 

The statement goes on to remind readers that this is still a time for remembering and celebrating history, but also for looking forward to current recognition as well.

As said on the flyer, “[February is] an opportunity to recognize the global marginalization of blackness and strive internally to elevate marginalized identities within communities for genuine liberation.” 

This statement about the existence of Blackness among Americans adds a positive appreciation for the community in America as it stands currently is entirely necessary.

In efforts to feature Black life and community more this month, numerous events have been and will be hosted up until the end of the month. With 18 events planned in total, there is something for everyone to enjoy. There are more casual fun events such as R&B Paint Night and BlerdOut: Murder Mystery Night. On the other hand, there are more informative events such as the Black History, Freedom, and Love Master Class. 

No effort has been spared to give Black experiences to the UC Davis community as guest speakers, professional musicians and physicians visit the UCD campus to spread awareness, information and overall joy during this month of remembrance. The conversations pushed this month have been progressive and beneficial for all students here at UC Davis, especially incorporating Black athletes.

With the support of UC Davis athletics and other institutions, Black students can continue to celebrate their past, present and future.

 

Written by: Mi’Zauni Reese — sports@theaggie.org

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