Reactions from the Shirley Povich Symposium on Nov. 11 were positive after a crowd of roughly 200 listened to Michael Wilbon, Scott Van Pelt, Kevin Blackistone, Kara Lawson and Damion Thomas discuss racism in sports.
The audience included members from all over the Washington, D.C. area with students, journalists and regular citizens attending the event.
Van Pelt, a television anchor and radio host for ESPN, said the topic of race fascinates him and, unlike others, it doesn’t scare him.
“I’m always interested in it,” he explained. “It’s such a complex topic that you could go on for hours. It’s never enough. I enjoy taking it on. I’m not afraid to discuss it.”
He said that when discussing race, he always keeps in mind that as a white person, he isn’t going to fully understand everything that comes up.
“I always have to remind myself that I can consider myself the enlightened white guy, but ultimately that’s all I am,” Van Pelt said. “To hear Kevin Blackistone speak very specifically about things is a great reminder that just because there’s progress, it doesn’t mean it’s over.”
Associate Segment Producer for Monumental Sports Lindsay Simpson echoed Van Pelt’s sentiment about not entirely understanding everything that comes along with discussions on race.
“One of the most interesting things, maybe things that I don’t know about as a white female, is just how prevalent it still is for the people still on the field and in the game,” she said. “How difficult some of these day-to-day challenges are that those of us who aren’t faced with the criticism, aren’t faced with some of the hatred, we don’t see on a daily basis. I think it’s a great reminder for all of us that even though the Civil Rights movement is over, that segregation is over, there’s still a long battle that needs to be fought.”
Marlin Chinn, an assistant women’s basketball coach at Maryland, said he decided to come to the symposium because the topic of race is something sports and society as a whole will never escape.
“I felt it was a topic that needed to be talked about,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to talk about an issue that will go on for as long as we live, and to have such a distinguished panel with some people who know very well what’s going on, it’s good to hear their views on different topics.”
Falating Woods, a senior international business major at Howard University, said the most interesting part of the symposium to him was the differences Wilbon made between race and racism.
“Race is something that’s obvious,” Woods said. “It’s something you can see. Racism is an actual act to tear down somebody’s personality or whatever it may be. To me that meant that he didn’t really engage in conversations without really knowing exactly what he was talking about. Not just the discussion topic, but thinking more deep and thinking about what it means to have a racial discussion and a racist discussion.”