Tomorrow afternoon, you could kick off the weekend as I usually do — plant yourself down at the library and glue your eyeballs to your laptop screen for two hours.
ALTERNATELY, you could plant yourself down in a comfy chair in the neat North Quad collaborative space and glue your eyeballs to a different screen to live and learn through the experiences of Black players on the German national soccer team.
UM’s German department is hosting a curated screening of the 2021 documentary film “Schwarze Adler” or “Black Eagles” tomorrow from 2-4PM in North Quad 2435. https://events.umich.edu/event/90023
“The documentary lets black players of the German national soccer team tell their personal stories for the first time. What road did they take and what obstacles did they have to overcome before they got to where we cheer for them?”
As we head into a weekend of events celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, I strongly encourage you to make time to reflect on the values that drove his and countless other lesser-mentioned civil rights leaders to fight inequities in their community, and how you are upholding those values.
I think we can all agree that working and living as an athlete is extremely challenging. There are a heap of pressures riding on these people’s backs: the internal drive to win, press and media attention, and the demands of your coach and teammates. It’s stressful at all levels, from high school to the NCAA to the pro leagues.
Those pressures are multiplied for athletes of color, who are often dehumanized. In the U.S. today, Black athletes are dogged by stereotypes that chalk their talent up to “inherent physical ability” rather than the actual years of hard training and practice they put into the game. They have to deal with antiquated competition restrictions that center the needs of their white counterparts (Exhibit A: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/14/style/olympics-soul-cap-ban-swimming.html), and then are shamed for using their platforms to protest their unjust treatment or prioritizing their mental health (ex: Colin Kaepernick, Naomi Osaka). Here’s an interesting history of Black athletes at our very own university: https://heritage.umich.edu/stories/lonely-as-hell/.
Now move the map to Germany. The personal stories of these players will likely be entirely different, and yet…similar in some fundamental ways to what we see in our country. What I think will be invaluable about this film is that the soccer players will be telling their own stories directly to the camera — no filtering or watering down included. This will be a thought-provoking way to get out of the U.S-centric perspective bubble I live in.
I hope to see some of you there!