NYC high school athletes of color protest lack of sports access, Tommie Smith and John Carlos style

NYC high school athletes of color protest lack of sports access, Tommie Smith and John Carlos style

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NYC high school athletes of color protest lack of sports access, Tommie Smith and John Carlos style

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When New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña showed up to speak at a City Council hearing she was expecting some tough questions about Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s preliminary budget for the department of education. What she didn’t expect was to be greeted which such a tough crowd before she even walked in the building.

As reported by the New York Observer, among other outlets, Fariña was bombarded with a group of high school protesters who were calling for improved funding for more sports at schools that are comprised predominantly of students of color. The students raised black-gloved hands aloft, just as Tommie Smith and John Carlos did in the 1968 Summer Olympics, while they chanted “Civil Rights Matter.”

As one might expect, both sides of this debate have compelling points to make. Let’s hear from the students first:

“How come schools with 82 percent white students have 44 teams,” Bestabe Cordero, a 16 year-old senior at International Community High School in the Bronx, asked journalists at the scene. “And my school, which is almost 100 percent students of color, Latino and black students, we only have two teams. How is that fair?”

According to the Observer, the only two sports sponsored at International Community High in the 2014-15 season were a ping pong team and a girls basketball team, a fairly startling revelation that would seem to underscore a serious level of inequality between schools of different racial backgrounds. Yet, Farina said there was a strong reason for that, again via the Observer:

Ms. Fariña testified to the Council later that many of the students come from small schools co-located alongside several others inside a single building with limited facilities. She said she had already planned to meet with the students, her department was encouraging schools operating out of the same structure to form unified sports teams to make best use of their spaces.

So some of these schools that are complaining about not having enough sports programs actually share a campus with schools that have much more complete offerings? If that’s the case, of course those schools should establish co-op programs.

However, if the case is that the schools being asked to co-op their sports programs are at independent campuses, and Fariña is implying or incorrectly stating that many are, then these students are absolutely right. Heck, even schools that do share campuses deserve more than just a ping pong and girls basketball program to their name.

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NYC high school athletes of color protest lack of sports access, Tommie Smith and John Carlos style
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