UNT at Black Student-Athlete Summit

Last week, North Texas student-athletes Tylor Perry, Alika Crawford, Ta’Shoyn Johnson and Saylor Hawkins attended the 2022 Black Student-Athlete Summit in Houston.

Below is an in-depth perspective from Perry on how he plans to apply what he’s learned to improve the experience for Black student-athletes at UNT.

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“My first thought about this whole trip when it was first introduced to me? To be honest, I wasn’t into it at all. I assumed it would just be a group of college students getting together and listening to speakers tell us how we need to be role models and not do drugs…you know the usual things that black athletes have to hear constantly throughout their lives.However, it ended up being a whole different atmosphere .Instead of lecturing us on what we need to do better and making us feel attacked, they wanted to hear the ideas we came up with.They know we are the ones in the field and in the field, so they wanted information from the people who actually do it, not administrators, or presidents, but what we see and feel about certain situations.

“ONE THING I TAKEN FROM THIS SUMMIT IS THAT BLACK STUDENTS IN MOSTLY WHITE INSTITUTIONS NEED THEIR OWN SPACE SO THEY CAN FEEL INCLUDED AND FEEL WANTED.” – TA’SHOYN JOHNSON

As a black athlete, really as an athlete, sometimes we don’t take the time to step back and look at what’s really going on until it’s happening in our community or at our school. Not that we don’t act, but we really don’t put pressure on people in power until we really care. It was one of the biggest things I saw at the top over the three days; that these problems occur everywhere. Not just in Texas or New York or Los Angeles, but across the country.

As a mid-major guy, I thought these high majors live their best lives, getting everything they need without any hassle in life. This is how people perceive the middle and lower majors. But in reality, these guys are probably suffering just as much as we are. I found myself thinking that it really wasn’t fair to them for so many years, just because a kid went to a certain school with a big name, all their problems would go away, no matter what color of their skin. I finally took a step back and found myself in awe, because I said to myself, “Brother, you all take care of certain things, I know I probably would have been ready to take care of them.” And you can’t do anything but be so proud of these black men and women, because of the way they behave. Hearing examples of black students being looked at from the sidelines, shrewd locker room comments directed at them, or teachers asking dumb questions about “layered” hair and dreadlocks was startling. These people acted as if our culture was an accessory. But in reality, that’s who we are. It’s a part of us.

A lot of times you don’t see the kids talking about anything in their lives or what’s going on with them, but seeing young black men and women opening up to what was pretty much strangers about their problems and their struggles is magnificent. We don’t do that enough in our community because we’re taught to be so tough all the time and hide our feelings. In the past three days, we’ve really been able to see black people expressing themselves in a way that we should be comfortable doing all the time.

“IT SHOWED ME THAT THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO CONNECT WITH PEOPLE…AND THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE THAN ME WHO ARE GOING THROUGH MENTAL HEALTH STRESS.” – ALIKA CRAWFORD

For me, it was just about seeing culture come together, taking notes and telling stories about different experiences. It’s definitely something I would send my child into. And of course something that I recommend to other black athletes. You will gain so much knowledge about who we really are. The biggest thing I took away from here was realizing the power we have not just as black athletes, but as student-athletes in general. We hold the key to a lot of things that happen with the NCAA. These institutions cannot function without us and we need to start using this to our advantage.

The realistic thing I heard all week was when another student said, “We can’t do this alone. And he meant emphatically that black people can’t do this on their own. We need all races to come together to see change because if we’re being honest, white people hold the majority of power. We can’t just think they’re automatically going to figure out who we are, where we come from, or what we’re going through. We need to educate them and help them understand our culture instead of judging them for not knowing.

“IT’S ABOUT THE GENERATION AFTER US. WE DO NOT WANT OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO BE TREATED WITH THE SAME PROBLEMS THAT OUR PARENTS ARE TREATED WITH OR WE ARE TREATED WITH. FORWARD.” – TYLOR PERRY

It’s going to take a whole village. One person can’t change it, a group can’t change it, but a whole community coming together can make a difference. It is no longer just us who are already in this position. This is the generation after us. We don’t want our children and grandchildren to struggle with the same issues that our parents or that we deal with. Our goal must be bigger than ourselves and it’s time to take that step forward. I am extremely grateful for this trip and all the things I learned. I was so happy to see so many black people in such a peaceful environment. It’s always good to see black men and women coming together to find solutions.”

-Tylor

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