Bringing It Home: Centre Cheerleaders Protest Inequality


BY COLLEEN COYLE – STAFF WRITER 

In the past issue, we looked at the history of political protest in sports. This week’s focus investigates protest on the playing field and how it’s affecting Centre students right here on campus.

 

Protests have erupted across the nation after the recent presidential election, and their impact is being felt on Centre’s campus.

The recent anti-Trump protests and the national anthem protests have both received sharp criticism from the media, with little effect on the protests’ fervor.

The purpose of political protest is often misunderstood—Rather than asking protestors what exactly they are protesting, protesters are dismissed as throwing fits or being dramatic.

Centre has not been immune to political protest either, as about half the Centre cheerleading squad have been kneeling in protest during the national anthem at football games throughout the semester.

I spoke with Aurielle March, Devin Baker, and Iliana Parillas about why they were protesting, what it meant to them, and what their experience protesting has been like.

Aurielle March, a Junior at Centre, shared an experience where a spectator witnessed her protesting and called out,

“what are you protesting for? Free college?”

In contrast, Aurielle, who is an African American student, shared that her protests “are not in disrespect,” but instead asks, “why should we pledge allegiance to a country that does not value me the same as everyone else?”

Fears of being the “loud black girl” have influenced how she protests, and she sees kneeling during the national anthem as a way to better encourage people to inquire about the protest. Aurielle promises that, “regardless of what anyone says,” she is going to continue her protests against inequality.

Devin Baker, a Junior, shares similar sentiments as Aurielle, while acknowledging that she has a privilege other students do not as a heterosexual white female. Devin says that social injustice has always been important to her, stating,

“I know that kneeling is not going to stop inequality, but if nothing else it will help raise awareness and make people realize they have allies. I’m a white female but I’m not afraid to stand up for my friends who are of other minority backgrounds, and in order to be that ally I need to act like one.”

Additionally, with the election of Donald Trump, Devin feels “more of a duty than before” to protest on behalf of her friends who don’t share the same platform to protest. In response to those who claim kneeling during the is unpatriotic, Devin says that

“when I kneel, I also keep my hand over my heart so I’m not disowning the flag. I’m still proud to be an American, things just need to be changed and the way to do that is by saying not everything is ok.”

Iliana Parillas also chimed in on her experience protesting on Centre’s campus, contributing a unique opinion because she is not an American citizen, but rather a Legal Permanent Resident. Iliana explains why she is protesting, stating

“I’m protesting the racism that is continuously prevalent in the county today. I refuse to stand for a country that won’t even stand for its own people, all of its people anyway.”

Iliana feels that she plays an important role and does respect the flag, stating:

“out of respect I do say the anthem but I won’t stand for a country who won’t stand for me or my family or anyone else who is different…if the motto of this country is “United we stand”, and we aren’t actually “United”, then no I won’t stand.”

All these women have indicated that they intend continue protesting during basketball season, hoping to start a dialogue about the challenges facing our nation, hoping to be better understood, and hoping to use their platform to share their message. Many will continue to dismiss protests across the nation, but during a time of national turmoil, these protests are an important way to have conversation and to demonstrate feelings peacefully.


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