SEE US Partner: Athletes for Equal Rights
Emma Anderson, Co-founder
My name is Emma Anderson, and I’m one of the founders of Athletes for Equal Rights. I’m a senior at Niskayuna high school from the Capital District of New York, where I’ve been playing soccer for as long as I can remember. I’ve also always had an interest in politics and social justice- I still vividly remember going to Obama’s inauguration in DC when I was five. For me, Athletes for Equal Rights is a perfect way to combine two of my passions.
In the aftermath of Ahmaud Arbery’s death, there was an athletic challenge that gained traction on social media called “I run with Maud”, in which athletes recorded themselves running or walking 2.23 miles in honor of Arbery, who had been shot and killed on 2/23 while out on his morning run. I went to a rally in Albany on May 30 where protesters listened to speeches of those impacted by police brutality, and then completed the 2.23 mile run. This served as my inspiration- I knew I wanted to give meaning to data by creating workouts based on the numerical quantities within each statistic.
For the next couple of days, I started working on a basic website design and created a week's worth of workouts. For example, a 24 minute core workout corresponds with the statistic “24% of those killed by the police are black, though black people only make up 12% of the population.” A few days later, Olivia Jack, a swimmer at Penn State that grew up in a neighboring town, reached out to me, at which point this campaign started to become a reality. Three weeks ago, Olivia and I did not know each other, but her mom and my mom are colleagues, which allowed us to connect to create this campaign. Prior to meeting Liv my expectation was that Athletes for Equal Rights would likely be a strictly local initiative, but once we started working, more opportunities started opening up. Within the next few days, her teammates sent in videos of themselves completing the first week’s workouts, which meant we were able to provide a video with each workout. We also wrote an analysis of every statistic, including specific examples of those affected by the inequality with the hope of making the numbers feel more personal and understandable.
We launched Athletes for Equal Rights on Instagram on Monday, June 8th, after the website had been finalized. Each day, we post the statistic and the workout that corresponds with it, along with the video created by Liv and her teammates. Within the first week, we gained a lot of support from people locally and from Penn State. Since our second week of workouts was released, we’ve started to look at how we can get other colleges and athletics programs involved. Though our workout programs have been focused on the Black Lives Matter movement at this point, there are other injustices that we want to tackle. We plan to look at issues that affect women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other minorities, all of which are intersectional issues. In the coming weeks, we will include statistics relating to these issues as well, with the goal to heighten awareness of all forms of inequality.
What I find more powerful than the statistics themselves are the stories of black athletes, which we have also published on the website. This page puts a face to the multitude of cases of racial injustice and mistreatment of black people. The athletes who contributed each share their own experiences throughout their lives as black athletes, people, and citizens of the United States. Olivia wrote the first story, which I found to be extraordinarily powerful, and it showed me that these stories must continue to be told. Since her story was released, there have been seven more published on the website, though I hope and believe that this number will continue to grow. We are always looking for more stories to share, so if you are interested in sharing, please reach out!
I’m extremely excited by the potential of this campaign, and we hope to continue to provide education on the realities of the injustices that exist within all facets of society. I really appreciate how much I have learned through the research aspect of the website, even two weeks in, it has been remarkably eye-opening. I am beyond grateful that I was able to connect with Liv in creating this project, whose passion, thoughtfulness and knowledge have allowed it to become so much more than what I had initially envisioned. There’s still a long way to go with this campaign, and I hope we can continue to work and connect with people who are invested in the fight for equality.
To visit our website and find ways to get involved, please go to www.athletesforequalrights.com.