Editor’s Note: Welcome Kalamazoo College sophomore long stick and native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Jake Fales, to Lacrosse All Stars. Jake reached out through social media to let us know what KZoo is doing to create progress in their community. We will let Jake take it from here.
First, it is absolutely imperative to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter.
When lacrosse is on TV, the commentators take time to pay respects to the origins of the sport. They often remark that in Native American communities, lacrosse is commonly referenced as the “Medicine Game.” While authentic and spiritual medicine games are reserved for the Haudenosaunee communities, played to bring about collective change and healing, the entire lacrosse community shares a bond of finding strength and experiencing growth through the game.
Of course, it is absolutely crucial to remember and celebrate the indigenous history of this sport that we love. It is also vital for us to recognize and acknowledge how lacrosse has evolved to be seen as a symbol of privilege and whiteness. While this doesn’t ring true for great numbers of our community, it’s a label that we have to understand we are being defined with.
Having the stigma of being a “white sport” is heartbreaking, not for kids that look like me, but for all of the ones that don’t and because of the label aren’t sure if lacrosse is safe for them. While we all want to move past this stereotype and prove the inclusiveness of lacrosse, a similar struggle is going on across the United States right now. Although we say they’ve been given a chance to play the same game, the Black community is being shown by our failing justice system that this place isn’t for them either.
If we in the lacrosse community want to continue to celebrate the incredible origins of our sport, we must take its core values to heart and refuse to stay silent in the face of injustices. We can’t talk about all of the good things that we’ve done. We need to move into action to actually create a level and safe playing field for the Black community and all people of color.
Our country has an undeniable history of racial violence against Black and Brown bodies, and the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are all products of this racist history. These senseless murders undoubtedly cause waves of pain to ripple around the world. The truth for our predominantly white community is that many of us will never be able to experience even a sliver of the pain and anguish that so many of our Black peers, teammates, and neighbors feel.
Yet, it is our obligation to listen, learn, and act.
Sports have the wonderful ability to promote unity and create change in our world. I am fortunate to be part of a lacrosse and academic institution such as Kalamazoo College, which uplifts our voices and encourages our civic engagement. As such, my team released a statement expressing our grief and standing in support with the protests against the prevailing injustices in our country.
While we alone are just a small voice calling for change, if we band together as a community, we can help further combat the status quo.
In our statement, we noted that our team is halfway to a goal of $3,000 to be donated to various organizations aiding in the Black Lives Matter movement.
— Kalamazoo College Men’s Lacrosse (@kcollegemlax) June 4, 2020
We issued a challenge, in which I’ll reiterate here, for other lacrosse teams to join the movement and take a stand.
Have difficult conversations, join local protests, and set a donation goal of your own.
No lacrosse gimmicks, no t-shirt sales, just action.
Lacrosse has provided us all an outlet to heal and grow together. Frankly, it is inexcusable for us not to use the values this game has instilled in us by taking action to help dismantle a racist system and bring needed healing and justice to our country.