Social work presentation to highlight battles “on the knee”

Albert Bimper, associate professor of ethnic studies, and a senior associate athletic director for diversity and inclusion at CSU, will present “The Paradox of the Black Athlete” on February 5. This event is open to all members of campus and community.

Does a professional player in the NFL have less of a voice—or no voice at all—as a player on the team? Is a student athlete seen as contributing less academically—just for being an athlete?

Assumptions we make about African-American athletes in particular will be tested by a presentation and discussion about “The Paradox of the Black Athlete,” sponsored by the School of Social Work’s Diversity and Human Rights Committee. Assistant Professor Malcolm Scott serves as a faculty advisor.

Recognizing and honoring resistance to injustice

As a social work educator, Scott identifies how athletes use their platforms to articulate issues around justice, equality, and equity. “They have courage and tenacity on the field, but also social consciousness off the field, about injustices they recognize in their environments and communities,” Scott said.

He used the example of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem at NFL games as a form of protest: “It impacted his career but also elevated a national consciousness and discussion about issues facing black males and communities of color. It’s important for social work students to see how different people, in different ways and in different communities, express thoughts and resistance to injustice.”

Social justice for student athletes of color

Scott mentioned an article, “Integrating Collegiate Sports Into Social Work Education” by Emmett Gill, Jr. (Journal of Social Work Education, 50; 305-321, 2014), as an introduction to the idea that athletes face issues which, if they were any other group, would receive more attention from social work professionals and educators.

The article states student athletes are confronted by the same challenges as all college students, such as depression, isolation, academic inferiority, substance abuse, and mental health disorders; yet, the culture of collegiate athletics exacerbates student athlete vulnerabilities, and educators in the discipline of social work can most appropriately respond.

Bimper to bring perspective on intersection of race and sport

Albert Bimper, associate professor of ethnic studies, and a senior associate athletic director for diversity and inclusion at CSU, will be the guest presenter. Bimper has also recently been selected by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as one of its 15 Emerging Scholars across the nation.

His research and pedagogical interests include student athlete development, particularly the intersection of race and sport, and how they are related to identity and the educational development of student athletes of color. An additional aim of his research and teaching is to be an advocate for social justice and further develop culturally relevant and meaningful educational experiences for student athletes of color.

The presentation will take place Monday, February 5, in Lory Student Center Room 312 at 12 p.m. There will be a break at about 12:45 to allow students to come and go for classes as needed; then a question and discussion session will continue from 1 to 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The School of Social Work is part of the College of Health and Human Sciences.