#BLMHeadbands Conversation at 2017 College Nationals Report Back

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#BLMHeadbands Conversation at 2017 College Nationals Report Back

By Laurel Oldershaw, June 2, 2017

At last week’s USA Ultimate College Nationals, many teams came together to compete for the biggest title in college ultimate. Off the field on Friday evening, some players continued to do work, this time intellectually.

Prior to the tournament, Megan Ives, captain of Colorado Kali, Chip Chang and Claire Chastain, National Ultimate League player advisers, Jessalyn Siu of California Pie Queens, and Laurel Oldershaw of the UBC Thunderbirds, met over Google Hangouts to take advantage of the opportunity to have so many teams from across the country converge in one area and discuss an important topic. Having noticed the increase in the number of people wearing #BlackLivesMatter headbands, there had yet to be a formal discussion in the ultimate community on the frequency and impact of the headbands.

The agenda started with an overview of terms so everyone could have a common baseline of communication. Then, people split off into pairs and shared their reactions to the questions, "What does Black Lives Matter mean to you? And what do you think when you see a #BlackLivesMatter headband?" Next, we moved into an activity that mapped the different levels of racism - interpersonal, institutional, cultural, and structural - in ultimate.

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The conversation finished with a report back from all of the groups and some of the most frequent responses were the party culture in ultimate, the lack of representation as a barrier to entry, and the music on the sideline is cultural appropriation. 

The conversation wrapped up with Ives and Siu sharing examples on how their teams work on these issues. Kali meets frequently over tea and cookies to talk about gender and racial equity, and the Pie Queens host a community meeting in January for everyone in the program to reflect on equity issues. 

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