Malia Martinez on #StrongerTogether
Dear Wildcat Family,
When my team first learned about the Stronger Together initiative, one of the topics we discussed was how it correlated with our sport. Centering on the key pillars of solidarity, empowerment, and respect, these are the values that my role models raised me to encompass, and are essential qualities of student-athletes. It preaches solidarity in achieving an end goal like a national championship, empowerment in uplifting our teammates to succeed, and respect for the game and one another as a family. But Stronger Together is so much more, and in the grand scheme of things, our game is the smallest aspect of this initiative. Even though these pillars are things each of us are quick to recognize as obvious qualities of basic human decency, if there's anything this last year has shown us, it's that sadly this is not the case in our country. Racial injustice is real in our world, and refusing to acknowledge this as a historical and ongoing crisis is refusing to acknowledge the truth.
Both of my parents moved to the United States at a young age and raised my sister and me to be proud of our culture, but to also be aware of mistreatment. As a woman of Samoan and Puerto Rican descent, I have firsthand knowledge of certain discriminations people of color who share my demographic face, but I am also fully aware of the privileges I have. The most important thing I have learned from the horrific racial injustices that have occurred is that what you ignore is what you empower, and just because it does no directly happen to you does not mean it shouldn't matter to you. I have a responsibility to speak up for what is right and an obligation to use my platform to promote social justice. Especially for student-athletes that have been told to "stick to sports" or to "shut up and dribble," we need to recognize the power our voices have and the impact we have on our communities. Stronger Together gives the athletic department an opportunity to unify diverse thoughts and the ambition for change under one label, and this is very powerful. Our voice matters and this initiative allows us to explicitly celebrate each and every culture, race, ethnicity, and identity, and to push for equitable representation. Stronger Together to me means embracing diversity and joining together in the face of adversity – creating a unified culture instead of a divisive one. It encourages us to celebrate our differences and uniqueness within our Arizona family, and to spread this message beyond.