White Supremacy. Triathlon. Cycling. Racism.
Message from Element Head Coach Tenille Hoogland:
The uprising for #blacklivesmatter against police brutality, racism, and injustice has changed everything. Sport is no exception. Triathlon and cycling need to change.
The faces of athletes in triathlon and cycling in North America are white, white, white. Canada is beautifully multicultural, so why is this mosaic not represented in these sports?
This is my third time trying to write something on #blacklivesmatter. I started with motivating, nice words that say we can take this on like a challenge. Let’s fix this. The truth is that I don’t know how. Ibram X. Kendi in a podcast with Brené Brown said “To be anti-racist is to first acknowledge where I am racist.” I am afraid I will say the wrong thing. Be an unintentional racist. White supremacy and racism is so embedded into the sport system that, until recently, I didn’t even know it was there. I am that privileged. And the leaders in sport are disappointingly quiet. I do know that listening to the voices of Black, Indigeous and People of Colour is a place to start for us all.
David Seivers wrote an article that talked about white supremacy in our sport. It is “the water we swim in… swallowing [it] with every stroke”. He defines white supremacy as the system that upholds the status quo of racial stratification; It is the ultimate privilege to turn a blind eye and carry on as status quo. In grappling with this I know that maintaining the status quo in triathlon and cycling is not good enough.
I am not here to be right but to get it right. I do know that being silent is not ok. Doing nothing is not ok. I and Element Sports Coaching will take action now and in the years to come to increase diversity in the sports we love. Sport policy and society at-large will have to change too. But we are committed to doing what we can. At Element Sports Coaching, we coach by pushing forward, learning, adapting and recovering. We energize each other and we mobilize. We are community. This is our next step.
Call to Action:
Our first step to be actively anti-racist in triathlon is to call on each person in the sport of cycling, running and triathlon to Run or walk 9km or do a 90km bike ride between June 27th and July 4th in honour of Black Lives Matter. Nine is the number of minutes George Floyd struggled to breathe under the knee of the police officer.
Can you also donate to Right to Play, a global charitable organization that uses the power of sport and play to educate children who are facing adversity, poverty and conflict. Link in bio to make your donation.
Feel free to post a picture or video on social media about how you participated and use the hashtag #RightToPlay to encourage others to donate as well. You can also tag @elementsportscoaching so we can find and share your post.
Start becoming aware of white supremacy in sport. Creating change to our system will be work and will create a better sport for all. If I know triathletes and cyclists, work is not something we are afraid of.
If you are interested in volunteering your time to start exploring how we can reshape our sport please contact email@example.com. We will be working in the future to continue actions and would love your support.