Together, we stand with the black community and are committed to playing our part in the change we want to see in the world. Soccer is the world's sport and has the power to unite all ethnicities and celebrate diversity. We recognize the problem that exists will not be solved in a day, but it’s a commitment to conversation, growth and representation of black athletes in the soccer community that will cultivate change. 
No voice goes unheard
No field will divide us
We can create change
 Join us as we sit down to better understand an African American family’s perspective in the soccer community…

(Much gratitude & respect to the Harrison family for sharing your story)  
(SZ) As a parent, talk to us about what your experience has been as an African American family growing up and also in the sports community?

(Derrick) "I must say that our experience as parents, overall, has been positive. One of the main reasons we decided to get our girls involved in sports was because of the valuable lessons learned on the field that stay with you throughout your adult life. Being one part of a mission bigger than yourself, playing for your teammate(s), different people coming together to accomplish a common goal. These were all principles that Sherill & I learned as kids playing youth sports and we wanted our girls to embrace those same principles. Although most of our time as soccer parents has been positive, we've had some negative experiences along the way. I'm a black man, and my wife is Filipina. When people comment about our kids' athletic ability, especially their speed, they always attribute it to me. Our oldest daughter, Nya, is verbally committed to Stanford for their 2021 recruiting class. Obviously Stanford is world-renowned for their academics. When conversations come up with soccer parents in the community, they automatically associate our daughter's academic prowess to Sherill. It is a stereotype that we deal with more than I care to discuss. Truth be told, Sherill and I are both brilliant, hyper-competitive, and athletic. Our kids had no choice but to be as awesome as they are! 
People also tend to assume that our girls get attention/recognition because they are black when in fact, they work their tails off too."
(SZ) Are there any actionable items you could suggest to our players/families/college coaches to increase diversity within the soccer community? How can soccer be more inclusive?

(Derrick) This is a frequent topic of discussion within our family as soccer has become a part of our DNA. We know there are so many kids who, if given the opportunity, would thrive in a club soccer environment but there are a number of obstacles preventing them from doing so. I have listed some suggestions (in no particular order of importance) below:
   A. Reduce/eliminate costs to participate - This has been a key talking point on the U.S. soccer scene for quite some time. In my opinion, the pay-for-play model is not sustainable if the goal is to develop the best talent. In fact, you're only developing the best talent that can afford to participate and, with costs increasing every year, the pool of players will continually get smaller.
   B. Soccer Clubs need to do more outreach in underserved communities - Most clubs are based in the suburbs and most of their players live within a 15-mile radius. There's also a new trend of clubs signing affiliate clubs to expand the brand and most of these affiliates are also in suburban areas. Clubs should consider expanding their brands by developing affiliates in urban areas or, at a minimum, develop a grassroots program to serve youth in the area. Doing so would give clubs a diverse pool of players to grow & develop for their club teams.
   C. Diversify your group of Board Members (and coaching staff) - I firmly believe that companies should be a reflection of the companies they serve. If you want a more diverse group of players, make sure you've got a diverse group of coaches and senior leadership. This creates a culture of decision-making from a number of different perspectives while also creating a culture of inclusion. Consumers love to support products and organizations in which they see themselves. Sporting organizations are no different.
   D. Practice what you preach - This one sounds easy, but you'd be surprised coaches/clubs fall off in this area. Accountability is key whenever you are in a position to have an impact on a community. Start with a few questions: What is your club (or school) mission statement? Are you living up to that mission statement? If not, where are the areas you fall short? If you are living up to the mission, what are the reasons you've been successful? 
(SZ) As a player- what has been your experience as an African American family growing up and also in the sports community?
(Nya) : Personally as black kids, in general, being raised in a predominantly white community, it has always been clear that we stand out, especially in school. All three of us have faced several questions about our hair and whether it is real or not; some even reach and touch it without asking. Then, even better is when we come back from summer break and our peers say how now we are almost the same skin color after they got their summer tan. Of course, these small incidents don’t define or affect us personally; however, the accumulation of events further highlights how we are just different than the people we grow up with. Additionally, as a black, mixed family, we’ve gotten tons of random stares from people in public whether it is in malls or even our local gelato shop, and we all know why we get those stares. In the soccer community, our family is well known for not only the performance of all three of us sisters but also for what we do for our club off the pitch. Despite the praise, we can often be labeled with the stigma that we are the typical “black athlete”- that  we are simply just fast and rely on our speed for success on the field. What many fail to realize is that yes, we use our speed as an asset, but we also pride ourselves on the technique that we work on on a daily basis whether that means mastering manipulative skills or working on several types of shots to add a more lethal force to our style of play. It’s difficult sometimes being categorized by a label society puts on us because of the color we were born in, but all three of us work hard to defy the stigma that surrounds us and instead prove to the soccer community why we receive the praise we have earned.    

(SZ) : Are there any actionable items you could suggest to our players/families/college coaches that we can take now to make a difference in the battle for equality in the #blacklivesmatter movement?

(Nya): Before taking any action, we believe it is very important for those who are not a person of color to recognize the privilege they were born with. One’s lack of recognition of this privilege- the privilege of not having to learn what to do when a cop pulls you over, of not having to worry about being rejected from a job based on the color of their skin, and of having a natural advantage in life over their colored counterparts because of the chains of oppression placed on minorities- will make them part of the problem going on. It is not bad to have this privilege unless it is abused and ignored; no one can control the color they were born in, but they can control what they do with the platform that color gives them. Another important thing to consider is simply reaching out to someone you may know from the black community and say that even though you may not fully understand, that you do stand with us. It’s very nice hearing from my club and college coaches that they stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. Even though it is something small, it contributes to a healthier and more accepting environment overall which makes it easier for change to be made. Besides those two things, it is crucial to spread awareness of the major issues of systemic racism and police brutality that have burdened our country from achieving one of its main principles of justice for all. Not only that, but signing petitions and sending emails to government officials who can directly contribute to those who were wrongly killed by law enforcement, including George Floyd, are equally as important because these are actions taken beyond sharing a post on social media. I tend to hear a lot of people, especially teens, who say they don’t have the money to directly donate to organizations such as Black Lives Matter; however, there are many YouTube videos that can be streamed where the ad revenue goes towards such organizations which help support the overall cause. The videos can be streamed in the background, even on mute, while doing homework, household chores, or even at-home work while we are in quarantine. It is a great way to donate without having to pay or really do anything physically. Most importantly, it is evident that our society as a whole lacks education on black history in our country. Even over the course of the past couple of days, my sisters and I have learned so much about our culture, so I know for sure that the rest of the country can learn something new too. I truly believe that educating yourself on the centuries of oppression blacks have faced will create a greater sense of empathy and understanding which allows you to connect and stand with us despite not going through the same struggles. We are stronger united and weaker divided; together is the only way we can make the change needed in our country.
We call on the soccer community to join us with gaining knowledge and perspective. Together, we can all do better. 

Team ScoutingZone
#BLM | #blacklivesmatter | #standtogether
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