Vanderbilt women’s basketball team to skip national anthem to ‘mourn’ racial injustices
The Vanderbilt women’s basketball team said it will skip the national anthem before games this season to “mourn” racial injustices.
“We are grateful for each other, our University and this country and for the opportunities they provide us in our efforts to pursue change. For the national anthem this year, we have chosen to stay in our locker room as a team to mourn and commemorate the racial injustices that have been taking place in the United States,” the team said.
— Kaylon Smith (@KayySmith__) December 8, 2020
Vanderbilt spokesman Eric Dolan told The Tennessean that the decision to stay in the locker during “The Star-Spangled Banner” was made by the players. Coach Stephanie White plans to join them.
In the past, nearly half of the team has knelt on the sidelines during the national anthem to protest racial inequalities and police brutality.
In an interview with the school’s newspaper in 2017, White said that “having difficult conversations makes you closer. I think we see that in our everyday relationships. If you can get on the other side of a difficult conversation, you get tighter. You get closer.”
The coach added she takes pride in her role leading the team.
“It’s about more than basketball, and we want opportunities to help mold and empower future leaders, and we don’t do that by pretending that issues don’t exist.”
Asked at the time if she had received criticism for participating in the demonstrations, White said, “There’s always going to be people who agree and people who disagree … Our team feels very strong about the opportunities to affect change. We will be supportive of it.”
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