Check Your Power, Check Your Privilege, Check Your Language Approach this forum as though you were part of a virtual role-playing game.
1) Here is the setting:
a) You are a coach/instructor/leader/director of a team, troupe, or organization. You can choose to oversee any organization– be it dance, football, basketball, cricket, gymnastics, karate, etc.
b) While this is a large organization, you are responsible for coaching/instructing a group of 12 individuals, ranging from 13-15 years. *You can determine the gendered make-up of your group, which might or might not be relevant.
c) Since your organization was formed ten years ago, members of the dominant culture (read white settler-community) have dominated the team. These individuals have long-standing relationships, as do their parents.
d) After 6 members of the team left two years ago, 6 new players joined. These athletes are Indigenous– and they have the same skills and abilities as the other 6 players.
e) Recently, the board of your organization has received the following complaints from Indigenous parents: -that coaches, staff, and veteran parents are referring to Indigenous members of the team as “them”, “they”, and “their”, while the original team members are referred to as “us”, “our” and “we”; -that parents are “nice” to Indigenous parents, but that these veterans do not make any effort to speak to new families during practices; and, that veteran parents physically separate themselves from Indigenous families at all competitions ; -that Indigenous players were not part of a recent competition and that Indigenous members of the team are feeling excluded, alienated, and ostracized; -that an Indigenous player was called a racist slur; and, -that members of the team are fighting against one another during practice due to this divisiveness.
2) It is your job to step up and heal the fractured relationships and racial divisions on your team. And, your job is on the line. You are asked to mediate an open discussion among parents and teenagers, so that the behaviour of veteran members of the team and their parents align with the organization’s anti-racism and diversity policies.
3) In this forum, you will discuss how you will prepare to host this meeting. Address the following:
a) How will you take a culturally-informed approach to this dialogue? And, how will you ensure that Indigenous athletes and families are not re-victimized through this process?
b) What is the significance– and underlying message– when coaches, staff, and veteran parents use “they” and “them” when referring to Indigenous athletes, while referring to the original team members, etc. as “us”, “our” and “we”? What does the this language suggest about the culture of your organization? What does this language infer? How do these particular terms “other” Indigenous athletes, thus contributing to racial divisions? How do you think these particular terms alienate Indigenous players and erode self-esteem? What is your role as a coach/instructor in changing the use of this language?
c) How would you address both the overt and covert racism on your team at both the level of athletes and parents? How would you build these relationships, so that you are an active agent in reconciliation?
d) How will you confront issues related to privilege– even if it upsets certain parents?
e) How will you address your own positionality (i.e. power and privilege) in this dynamic? To achieve full marks, students will draw upon the language, concepts, and theories from this course and provide thoughtful and insightful responses to the questions posed in this forum (3 a-e).
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