AMHERST, Mass. – As part of their recognition of Black History Month, members of the of Amherst College Student-Athletes of Color (CACSAC) travelled to Wildwood Elementary School to share their experiences and answer questions about dealing with race relations.
Along with advisor Billy McBride, the group included field hockey first year Bella Edo, cross country and track and field senior Mohammed Hussein, and Athletic Trainer/Assistant to the Athletic Director Christian Caban.
The group spoke with students about how they handled situations of race relations and how those experiences shaped them to become better human beings. They also conducted a Q&A, in which the students offered insightful and powerful questions. The students filmed a new broadcast with the interviews, which they also produced themselves.
Here are some thoughts from each of the Amherst group on their experiences at Wildwood:
Christian Caban: My experience at Wildwood Elementary was truly eye opening. Prior to my arrival, I reflected back on the time when I was around the age of the students we spoke to. At that age, I wasn't fully aware of the circumstances I would ultimately run into as an adult. And while it's unfortunate that these issues are still prevalent, I found satisfaction in knowing that these students weren't as naïve as I was at that age. They were sharp, engaged, and I was taken aback by some of the questions asked. It made me proud to know that social awareness was being instilled in these children at a young age because they will have the tools, as our future, to make the necessary strides towards change.
Bella Edo: Getting to go to the Wildwood elementary school and talk to children from the Amherst community was such a fun experience. It was great to be able to talk to kids about serious topics like identity, race, and human rights, but it was also such a unique experience because of how precious these students were. They were lighthearted and giggling in one moment and then asking hard hitting questions about race and racism in America the next. Maybe part of it was just that they were excited to have people come in and talk to them about something outside of their regular class schedule, but I felt that they wanted our signatures because seeing people of color that are successful as student-athletes. Representation matters because it shows all of those little boys and girls that the color of their skin never has to deter them from striving for greatness. And I think that's what black history month should be about; using those who have come before us as inspiration for what we can and will become. Overall, it was an incredibly rewarding experience and a wonderful way to celebrate black history month.
Mohammed Hussein: My experience at the Wildwood Elementary School was absolutely amazing and powerfully inspirational. I was blown away by the energy, enthusiasm and inquisitiveness of the students. In light of black history month, It felt great to engage an extremely diverse student-body. The kids were relentless in their quest to know more and to ask tough questions. Moreover, having a diverse panel in the like of Billy, Chris and Bella certainly made the experience more fruitful and the discussions more lively. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with the next generation of students and student-athletes of color and hearing them ask great questions with even greater enthusiasm was very inspirational.
Billy McBride: We chose to speak at Wildwood Elementary because they embody a very diverse population with students from all sorts of backgrounds. We also wanted to show the kids that there are young individuals of color that are striving and are on the path to success here within the community. It ties to Black History Month for the fact that without the prior achievements and dedication displayed by our elders, we wouldn't be in the position to create success for ourselves, let alone speak to a diverse group of bright individuals.