Ibtihaj Muhammad: A letter to my teammates
‘Through sports, we have the opportunity to unify and to lead,’ the U.S. Olympic fencer says
I want them to know the importance of allied voices in movements for freedom and justice. Their silence is deafening. Their choice to be “safe” and sit out of the conversation is as political as taking a knee. Though a white ally may never truly understand what it is like to be black in America, their voices as American athletes matter. Allies send a powerful message that equality is everyone’s fight. Sport is unique in its ability to unite people of different shapes and sizes, ethnicities and faiths and varied experiences and over the course of history, this dynamic has played an important role in shaping cultural discourse. Through sports, we have the opportunity to unify and to lead.
Through sports, we have the opportunity to unify and to lead.
We stand at a particularly divisive time in America, where black and brown bodies are still denied basic human rights simply for the color of our skin, and we as athletes must not fear using our voices to fight for justice and end bigotry. We each have the power to change the narrative, as leaders in the movement and as allies for our teammates. For guidance, let us look to our predecessors who risked everything like Muhammad Ali and John Carlos, to the allies who have been largely forgotten by history like Peter Norman and to modern heroes like Colin Kaepernick, Serena Williams, Megan Rapinoe and so many women of the WNBA. Today and every day we must continue to fight and recommit ourselves to Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision and be inspired by his words: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”
This story appears in ESPN The Magazine’s Feb. 5 State of the Black Athlete Issue. Subscribe today!