Music blaring, a collective euphoria swamps the air. Expectations about the upcoming basketball season are irrelevant; today, Georgetown’s prodigal son has returned home.

After years of apathy-inducing athletics, Georgetown’s nostalgic alumni return Nov. 12 to see Patrick Ewing’s (COL ’85) first game as head coach for the men’s basketball team.

As the lights turn on after player introductions, the national anthem starts. Elation turns to frenzy; joy turns to shock. Each player on the men’s basketball team is taking a knee, protesting the injustice that black bodies face on a daily basis.

Imagine: One of the biggest moments in the recent history of Georgetown athletics could be transformed into a conduit for conversation about the status quo of black and brown people ‘s lives.

We desire dialogue. When we normalize the injustices wrought upon black and brown bodies, we fail to critically analyze the source of the injustice itself: indifference.

The NFL kneeling protests have laid the foundation for such dialogue. Such a demonstration by Georgetown basketball could foster the necessary dialogue by requiring us to critically analyze our own tacit complicity to the racism that occurs every day on campus.

Amid conversations regarding police brutality, the racial disparity in incarceration rates and, most disturbingly, the revival of white supremacy across the nation, we are constantly confronted by questions of responsibility and representation. Whose duty is it to take a stand — or, in some cases, to take a knee? It must fall upon those with prominent voices.

Georgetown basketball should take up this mantle, as eyes across the nation will be set on the team’s regular season opener Nov. 12.

Georgetown has not shied away from calling out racial injustice in the past. In 1983, then-President Timothy Healy, S.J., expressed his outrage at racist actions by the crowd at basketball games, including t-shirts and signs directed at Ewing that said “Ewing Kant Read Dis” and “Ewing is an Ape,” and a banana peel thrown during a game.

“It is cheap, racist stuff… No one on the face of the Earth can tell me if [Ewing] were a 7-foot-high white man that people would still carry these signs around,” Healy said to The Washington Post after these incidents.

Before a nationally televised game in 2014, the Georgetown men’s basketball team showed solidarity with Black Lives Matters protesters by wearing T-shirts reading “I Can’t Breathe,” a reference to Eric Garner’s dying words as he was choked to death by an NYPD officer for allegedly selling cigarettes illegally. The phrase has since become a rallying cry for many protesting racial injustice, including the Black Lives Matter movement.

Georgetown basketball has never been distant from race and racism. In fact, the team’s “blackness” has often been a symbol of defiance in the face of white hegemony, serving as a source of pride and joy for fans beyond the confines of Washington, D.C.

From public figures like Snoop Dogg and Spike Lee donning Georgetown basketball attire to the presence of Georgetown gear in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, it is evident that Georgetown’s basketball team is inextricably linked to blackness.

Still, we must also be fair to and respectful of the players. The fight against racism often thrusts minority individuals into the public eye to bear the burden of representation for their race. If we as black and brown students place that responsibility upon the players, we are interacting with and reinforcing the very structures we hope they will fight against.

Whether or not they kneel, we hope that the players and those in the spotlight across the nation do not feign ignorance to the plight of black and brown people; we hope they do not see their status as an immunization against institutional oppression. It certainly did not protect Ewing 25 years ago.

Critics of kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest claim that such actions degrade and disrespect our military. Yet these misguided arguments overlook the fact that our military has courageously sacrificed life and limb for our rights to free speech and protest. They overlook the fact that what makes our nation great is the truth that emerges from the free exchange of ideas.

The appetite for protest is not enmeshed in any anti-American sentiment — rather, it is the antithesis of that. As James Baldwin said, “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”

From the proliferation of hate-filled rhetoric toward Jewish students to the vandalism of posters promoting the Hindu and Muslim communities to the microaggressions that black students face daily, we are constantly confronted by a choice: Do we engage or do we ignore?

We want to be a part of a campus that is actively engaged. We can’t think of a better instigator than Georgetown’s own basketball team.

Hashwinder Singh and Khendrick Beausoleil are sophomores in the College.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

6 Comments

  1. Virtue signaling is worthless. Talk to me after you have immersed yourself in the impacted communities and really attempted to address the issues directly instead of just seeking attention and affirmation. Tell me after you have become a doctor and worked 20 hours a day in minority communities. Tell me after you have become a defense attorney and have righted wrongs and exposed corruption regardless of the race of the perpetrator. Tell me after you have become a cop and seen the horror that people can perpetrate on one another. Tell me after you have become a social worker and have had to deal with disfuctional families with drug addicted parents who could care less about their children. Tell me how your kneeling will solve these problems.

  2. David Kopech says:

    Typically, the Hoyas are not on the court for the national anthem. Assuming that will be the case, how about a patch on the uniform reflecting their support for those trying to educate the world about the racism and discrimination that continue to exist in the US and the world.

  3. Bannons Beardcheese says:

    No, and here’s why. Like it or not, there are good people who are offended by kneeling because it is perceived as a slight against service members and other things they believe in. That has to be respected even if the kneeler’s intent is otherwise.

    Let’s find a way to make the valid point (BML) without creating division.

  4. Chicken Finger Thursdays says:

    If these kids are kneeling, we should provide pews and cushioning. Knee injuries are much more prevalent in basketball and these young men would not be kneeling on grass or dirt, but the hard wooden court.

    I would also be in favor of replacing the national anthem with the Ave Maria, but that’s just me.

  5. Darrel Harb says:

    If it’s respect to the military to protest the flag, because the military has sacrificed for your right to protest, then it’s also respect for the military to protest the military.

    You people are driving away normal Americans in droves with your forced “conversation” (not-stop virtue signaling and hectoring) on race. Go ahead and hitch your star to anti-Americanism; see how far you go.

  6. Play ball … Pat already is going to have enough problems dealing with the spoiled, winy, Georgetown student body.

Leave a Reply to Bannons Beardcheese Cancel

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*