Amid the summer's uproar over escalating police violence catalyzed by the killings of George Floyd, D'Amore-McKim students and track and field athletes Khailah Griffin, DMSB'22, and Erica Belvit, DMSB'21, strategized ways to amplify their voices and impact racial and social justice in the spaces they occupy most. The result was the Northeastern University Black Athlete Caucus (NUBAC), whose mission is to affect positive change and foster a safe and empowering place for Black athletes in the Northeastern and Boston community.
“We wanted to create a very safe space for all of us to be able to come together to discuss things that were bothering us [and to] strategize how we're going to make fundamental changes in Northeastern, specifically within athletics,” Griffin says.
Both Belvit and Griffin, now advisers to the caucus, expressed a desire for greater representation within the Northeastern athletic administration. While there are a handful of Black coaches, they hope to see leaders who understand where they're coming from and are involved in strategic planning processes. And beyond inclusion, they want a sense of belonging for Black athletes.
“There's a huge difference between including people and making the space feel like you belong here,” Griffin says.
NUBAC has regular check-ins with the athletic administration as part of a running project to create a racial justice action plan. Belvit and Griffin found that admin have been supportive and receptive to their concerns, maintaining open communication throughout the process.
“I want to commend them on being so willing to just take our feedback into account,” Belvit says.
Their on-campus efforts involve holding the administration accountable for providing inclusive programs as well.
“In a place where we're transitioning so much, you need to be more cautious of what you're doing when you're putting on events, bringing in people,” Griffin says. “‘Is this fully representative? Did we get the most inclusive type of people on board?'”
NUBAC also hopes to tap into the surrounding communities. They aim to bring exposure to local students, especially in lower income areas, to see people reflective of them in both higher education at an institution like Northeastern and in Division 1 athletics.
In collaboration with the Northeastern Student-Athletes for Equity Coalition, which provides a hub for social, racial, and political awareness resources, NUBAC also powers the joint NU Student-Athletes for Equity Coalition Fund to aid local nonprofits that diversify athletics and support underserved student-athletes.
NUBAC will pursue connections with the administration and the community under its current e-board and beyond.
“I'm really hoping that NUBAC is one of those organizations that is updated and upgraded every single year, that gets new people, gets new perspectives, and just grows,” Griffin says. “Because, not one Black person can speak for all Black people. And so there's always going to be something new that we learn about each other, and there's always gonna be something that we want to use in order to help build each other up.”