RealTalk x Razor Sports: Sexism and Racism in Athletics
This month the Sports section is providing a forum for students experiencing racism and sexism in athletics at Hopkins. To find out how to submit to the RealTalk x Razor Collab, see the ad on Page 7.
“I came to Hopkins in seventh grade. I’ve played field hockey, basketball, and golf which is very difficult for me because being a seventh grader on a varsity team is difficult, being black on an all-white team is difficult. For me, in seventh and eighth grade it was hard to make friends and find my place. One of the issues at Hopkins is that it doesn’t really help people feel comfortable and included if you are different. If you are younger, it is hard to find your place within the group, and if you are a different race it is very hard to figure out where you fit in. In Junior School, I struggled with fitting in and I didn’t know where I belonged, but I wanted to just play. It seems as though now, Junior Schoolers who are playing on varsity teams are having way more fun than I did.
On the golf team at Hopkins, there has never been a fully African American captain and there has never been a female captain. This is weird because the team is co-ed, but we never get enough girls anyways, and we especially don’t get enough African American players. It’s weird because I know so many African-American people and I know so many African-American females that play. But I know that a few of them go to Hopkins, and I feel like they always thought that they never could play and that they were so out of place and judged. I completely understand this because when I’m not with my teammates I get so many bad looks and people assume that I’m not on the team.
The issue with playing golf was always when we played at other schools. Even though I was the only girl on my team, I was used to it and my teammates accepted me because I had skills. Every single time we would travel to other schools there would always be an issue. I am always in the top half of the starting line-up and whenever the announcer would call my name saying I’m playing third, I would look around and there was a constant look of shock on everyone’s faces, or people being like ‘oh I’ll beat her’. It’s difficult to not get the benefit of the doubt that the boys do, but I know the boys will always have my back. Every time there are weird remarks, for instance someone said ‘oh, you are playing from the women’s tees?’ I remember at one match, someone said, ‘What are you doing here?’ and it was crazy how fast their facial expression changed as soon as Dr. Brant came out.
Golf is such a mental game, and it really sucks that I have to hear from someone that I don’t belong, and then play a game of golf to the best of my ability. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten used to it and I know to block other people out, but I’ve had to block out my opponents as well as people who come to watch. Dr. Brant is very supportive and reassuring that at the end of the day, I’ll probably beat every player that I play. When I get nervous or jittery or someone looks at me weird and makes a hurtful comment, he reassures
me and tells me that I can out-drive them, you can play from their tees and still win, and that I do belong here. He also checks in a lot and tells the coaches of the other teams at the end of the day, I’m still a golfer and there shouldn’t really be a problem.
Hopkins has a lot of work to do especially for females who play a sport that is predominantly male. I think it needs to be a full change between all teams because Hopkins has never made a full effort to get a female golf team. I always think about whenever we have a lot of girls on the co-ed team, if we had an all female golf team at Hopkins and I ask Dr. Brant. He says that he’s always wanted one but Rocco has said there’s never enough people, even though that is how you start a team. You normally start out with four or five people, and then it grows and grows and more girls will join because they will feel more comfortable.
At Hopkins, no one really goes to the girls games and it’s unfair because it is hard to watch the boys basketball team for example get the nice gym and prime time whereas the girls basketball team gets the middle gym and games at 3pm on a Saturday. The famous Pancake Breakfast during Homecoming is supposed to be a fundraiser for boys and girls basketball, which it is, but the boys raise more money because they get their tickets first. Whenever I try to sell my tickets, I always hear, ‘I already got one, sorry.’ It’s also so frustrating because it recently became a boys and girls Pancake Breakfast whereas before it was only for the boys.
At the end of the day, Hopkins does need to do better and ensure that minorities feel comfortable and feel like they can speak up. I don’t think Hopkins has given a voice to those people especially within Athletics. Hopkins is known for academics and known for trying to develop hopeful youths, if they are actually trying to do that then there needs to be the same amount of emphasis in both.”
-Milan Yorke ’21
“I have a couple of stories. But one of the most specific ones happened senior year during lacrosse season. We went to Wilbraham and Monson [Academy] which is a boarding school in Massachusetts.
During the game, I was walking back to take the face-off and this attackman who I wasn’t even guarding started chirping me like ‘Yeah 11, yeah 11, you see what I’m about. Wave check 11, wave check 11.’ I was wearing a headband but it looked
nothing like a doo-rag.
My friend was there and he defended me: “You know you can chirp and trash talk and all of that stuff but as soon as you bring race into it we’re going to have a problem.’ The kid from Wilbraham and Monson said, ‘What are you talking about? He’s wearing a doo-rag, he’s the wave check kid.’ After he said this I got in his face and I also told the ref and warned him that their player was saying these things to me, but he didn’t really do anything.
Throughout the game we were still going back and forth, trash-talking each other. When we were on defense, I was off the field and the kid said to my teammate: ‘Who’s your monkey friend 11 buddy?’ I didn’t know that he said this until later, but if I heard him say it we actually would’ve gotten into a fight and it would’ve been really bad. My teammates on defense heard him say this and in defense of me they hit him really hard. It was good to know that my teammates had my back and were standing up for me, not just ignoring what he said.
When we were in the huddle, my friend told me and I walked over to my coaches and told them what happened. For my lacrosse coach, I love him and I know that he would do anything for me, and looking back, there wasn’t much that he could’ve really done. Even after the player on the other team first said ‘wave check, wave check’ I got off the field and told my coach that if he said it again I was gonna hit him really hard. My coach was very supportive and I don’t blame him at all for how he handled the situation. When I told him what the other player said, he said he would definitely talk to his coaches and figure this out. Again, he’s a coach and he has to be a leader and set an example for the team and for that I understand why he couldn’t blow up. I think if he blew up then both teams would’ve gotten into a fight. If it was me, I probably would’ve blown up but when I think about it, would that have been the right decision?
At the end of the day, it was so eye-opening for my teammates as they realized that racial slurs are a reality and these things happen. I remember the bus ride back to Hopkins everyone was apologizing to me but they were also so quiet and really angry.
I don’t blame my coach for the way he handled it, but I think Hopkins coaches and the Athletic Department also need to go through the racial insensitivity training to understand what to do if future situations arise. I think that everybody, meaning students, my teammates, and coaches need to realize that these things happen as we go to a very white wealthy prep school and play schools alike. Racial slurs and everything alike will happen, and being aware of it is really important as well as trying to prevent it.”
At Hopkins, a lot of my athletic accomplishments or me being good at something athletically was washed down because people said ‘oh you’re black that is expected’ or ‘you’re supposed to be like that’ and someone even said during wrestling season ‘oh well it doesn’t count because you are black’. The comments hurt me the most during football season because people playing down or invalidating what I can do just because I’m black is not fair and it’s not supposed to be like that.
I know that most of the time it is not coming from a malicious place and more ignorance, especially growing up in an all white environment where a lot of the kids who would say these things to me came from.
This ignorance and stigma also comes into play with basketball or football which are ‘black sports’ and having people make them play that sport or really talking about how good they would be playing because of their skin color.
In reality, that may not be the case. In my case, after I got cut from thirds, the amount of comments I got saying like, ‘oh black kid got cut from thirds, wow’ or ‘wow, you are supposed to be good’ was horrible. I think that coaches and the Athletic Department should definitely be wary of that and overall the student body needs to stop stigmatizing because it is really messed up. I don’t want any kid to have to feel like they have to be good at a sport to be seen as black.”
-Hopkins Alumnus, Anonymous