By Lamar Brown, N.Y. Association of Blind Athletes
It has been more than 400 years that black people in America have been largely underrepresented, misrepresented, and denied inalienable human rights that are to be afforded to all citizens in accordance with the Constitution. One must be incredibly honest and recognize that America and its prosperity can largely be attributed to what materialized as free labor, that being slavery and all the benefits that it entailed. One must consider the historical mental anguish and the overall feeling of despair in the black community.
George Floyd was merely the catalyst to igniting the beginning of a movement which essentially is demanding the equitable treatment of black people in all facets of life. Particular points of emphasis are racial equality, racial justice, and human rights. Time dictates that America must begin to listen to a voice that has been relatively silent for too long due to oppression!
Sport can be identified as being the closest to a meritocracy that people can excel at the rate in which they are willing to work for. This is exactly what goalball has provided for the New York Association of Blind Athletes. Personally, as a prominent leader of my program, I deem it extremely necessary to cultivate a culture in which youth boys and girls, as well as men and women feel secure, confident, respected, and protected. For many years we have battled with securing consistent gym space for practice in what is an immense city where we are forced to compete with mainstream sports for gym time. While enduring the struggle with maintaining athletes’ interest, we have had success stories working under strenuous circumstances. Over the last two decades, our organization has sent six athletes to the USA Men’s Goalball training camps to compete for a spot on the U.S. National Team. We have also helped develop a current contender on the women’s team in Shavon Lockhardt, who in her own right was forced to train with the men because not many girls in New York City were committed to playing goalball. We all come from the inner city in which there is an exorbitant amount of distractions that can impact our respective lives. We are exposed to violence and police brutality at an alarming rate which psychologically impacts us culturally. This is why it is absolutely important to denounce racism, inequality, and police brutality toward black people. It is a testament to the quality of people we are producing, namely because we work diligently to overcome these systemic adversities.
Working with USABA for over 23 years has been a tremendous experience for the program. We are predominantly represented by minorities, one of the few organizations in USABA, and have never been treated differently because of race.
It was reaffirming for Mark Lucas, Executive Director of USABA, to make a personal statement declaring his support for the black movement. We have partnered with USABA in their mission statement, thus we are enthusiastic with Mark Lucas’ commitment to standing with us in solidarity.
Yours in Sport
Photo Description: Lamar Brown (r) shakes hands with John Kusku following a match at the 2018 USABA National Goalball Championships.