Carrizosa: A Call to all Latina/o/x Athletes


Professor Ortega, photo courtesy of Idaho State

On Feb. 9, I participated in a research study via Zoom with Idaho State University professors Guillermo Ortega and Berenice Sanchez.

Higher education professor Guillermo Ortega contacted me via Twitter asking me to participate in a study examining Latina/o/x college athletes’ perspectives on social and racial justice issues.

Both Ortega and Sanchez are Southern California natives; both also decided to further their education to research Latina/o/x college students and collegiate athletes.

Professor Ortega and professor Sanchez asked me a series of questions like “How do you define activism?”

Ortega stressed that there were no right or wrong answers, given the subjective nature of the answers.“There are no incorrect answers because this study is based on the opinion of Latina/o/x collegiate athletes,” Ortega said.

My answers were different from those athletes who attend a predominantly white institution due to the fact that I have a different college experience than other students.

Being a Hispanic student at an HBCU, I have been able to tell stories that represent an aspect of Hispanic lives but I have also listened to the stories that represent an aspect of African American lives.

In my perspective, Coppin State welcomes all people of color and has a more welcoming environment than PWIs.

Being Latina, I understand how it feels to not learn about your own history. Although, with my experience at a HBCU, I learned about African American history, culture, and diversity.

In the classroom-setting, we are always able to have open conversations about racial injustices.

My male classmates expressing their fear to the class about walking down the street while wearing a hooded sweater, or my female classmates expressing the annoyance of being forced to hold their tongues because of the fear of being undermined.

We share our stories of being minorities in America and we share our fears of being minorities in America. Fears like getting told to go back to your country when you were born in California or the fear of being called unprofessional for the style of your hair. These fears and stories also allow us to connect with each other and understand these aspects of each others’ lives.

Both Ortega and Sanchez appreciated my perspective with questions like “Do you feel comfortable talking to your coaches, teammates, and athletic staff about protests, activism, and racial justice issues” and “Do you feel comfortable talking to your non-athlete friends about protests, activism, and racial justice issues” because I was their first participant from a HBCU.

My experience with this study opened my eyes regarding my attendance at Coppin State because Professor Ortega expressed how my answers were different compared to others. My answer regarding the necessity for student-athletes to speak about racial injustices, which was that it is extremely necessary.

I am extremely lucky to attend a HBCU because I learned many racial and social issues here that I wouldn’t have learned at a predominantly white institution due to the open atmosphere Coppin State has regarding these issues.

Being an HBCU, Coppin students feel empowered being in this environment which leads them to openly speak out against racial injustices.

If you are a Latina/o/x Division I athlete and are interested in participating in this research please email Professor Ortega at [email protected].

Desiree Carrizosa is a senior English major and staff writer of the Courier. Contact the Courier at [email protected] with feedback or story tips.