Maddy Ellsworth, OSU Women’s Soccer Redshirt Freshman Defender, is using her platform as a student athlete to heighten awareness for the Blank Lives Matter Movement both on and off campus.
As a Black female athlete, Ellsworth knows firsthand what it is like to experience discrimination and adversity. When the Black Lives Matter movement initially began, she found herself gravitating towards the “All Lives Matter” side of the movement, but as she educated herself on the movement’s main goals, she changed her mind. In an interview with The Barometer, Ellsworth said, “…It was clear that the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t saying that ‘all lives don’t matter.’ It is saying that [because of] the injustices that Black people are facing right now, we need to make a change specifically for Black people.”
After participating in a run to raise awareness for Ahmaud Arbery’s death in February, Ellsworth said George Floyd’s death felt like “…a slap in the face…” She then began asking for change and educating those around her on why this movement is so important.
In a moving letter to her teammates and coaches, Ellsworth describes feeling a lack of support from those whom she considered close friends. She expressed her frustration with the lack of response to her social media posts which detailed the sadness, confusion, and anxiety she had been feeling. In the letter she writes “However, I have gotten little to nothing in response. I am sorry if this makes you uncomfortable but for most of you all, white privilege comes with being able to decide when you want to feel uncomfortable and when you don’t.”
In a separate part of her letter, Ellsworth explained how allies can educate themselves on the movement in an emotional plea; “Pick up a book, Google search, look on YouTube, talk to people you know that are literally experiencing it first hand and ask the uncomfortable, awkward, and somewhat unanswered questions that you may have.”
In response to the letter and Ellsworth’s efforts, the university and athletics program have begun to work towards a better understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as looking to provide better resources for their student athletes. But Ellsworth doesn’t stop there. She also participates in peaceful protests around the area, namely in Corvallis and Eugene. She has also reached out and connected with schools and other student athletes across the Pac-12, making sure that other athletes feel supported.
Ellsworth’s ultimate goal is simple: that all races will unite in education of the injustices experienced by people of color, in order for members outside the Black Community to fully understand what the movement stands for. She looks toward a future when students and athletes of color work together to bring about unprecedented change, both on campus and at large.
Ellsworth’s letter to her team
“How I feel:
I am writing this because I have spent countless days now waiting. Waiting for a text, waiting for a phone call, waiting for any sign up love and support. Whoever is reading this is someone that I have considered to be a friend, someone I care for, love and value.
However, amongst everything going on right now I really do not feel like you all feel the same towards me. I have posted, I have posted about the sadness, the confusion,the overwhelming anxiety that the killing of INNOCENT Black people has caused me to feel.
However, I have gotten little to nothing in response. I am sorry if this makes you uncomfortable but for most of you all, white privilege comes with being able to decide when you want to feel uncomfortable and when you don’t.
As a black woman I do not have that choice. I am reminded everyday of the hardships that come along with being a person of color. From having to see my own being shot to the ground, having to see a man pleading for his life while you slowly watch him murdered, to the countless replies saying that this is our fault and we are to blame.
I can speak for myself and many others, we are tired. We are tired of feeling like we are the only ones that care, we are tired of feeling like this problem is just ours and not yours, we are tired of being told that we need to calm down. For what. Why I ask, why is this just our problem, why do YOU get to decide when to care about this problem, why do YOU get to decide when you feel comfortable enough to post or advocate for this problem? I just do not understand.
It is not any POC job to educate you on how to go about a conversation, or how to advocate. Pick up a book, google search, look on youtube, talk to people you know that are literally experiencing it first hand and ask the uncomfortable, awkward, and somewhat unanswered questions that you may have. Because the excuse of “I didn’t know how to bring it up” or “I didn’t know enough about it” was frankly burnt out during the Civil Rights movement in the late 1960s.
Regardless of your skin color, young and old adults that consider themselves good people have an obligation to me and my fellow POC brothers and sisters and that is to educate, understand, and then become an advocate. This is a problem and if you say nothing, do nothing, and act like you are not the problem I can 100% guarantee that you are indeed the problem to the core.