Deep Space has taken the lead on fundraising for racial justice groups across the UK. Claire Baker explains why this cause is so important, with additional input from teammates Joanna Hamer, Leila Denniston, Matthew Hodgson, Miyen Ho and Robert White
The wave of protests across the world in the aftermath of George Floyd’s tragic death has brought issues of systematic racism to the forefront of many of our minds louder than ever before. Racism and racial inequity are systemic injustices not limited to the US; they pervade across the UK and Ireland as well. Despite our sport being built upon core values of respect and equality, particularly through the Spirit of the Game, the UK and Ireland ultimate community is not as diverse as the society we live in. Our sport isn’t always inclusive, and this has to change.
Motivated by a desire to combat racial injustice, a group of players from Deep Space came together virtually to discuss what anti-racism actions could be taken within our community, both immediately and in the long-term. We were inspired by the AUDL anti-racism discussion panel and community-wide fundraiser which raised $67,950, Savage Ultimate’s anti-racism fundraiser which raised $43,000 and Molly Brown’s commitment to redistribute the approximately $30,000 that they would have collectively spent on playing ultimate this year to local BIPOC-owned and led organizations. These actions in the US showed us that the international ultimate community has the resources, both financial and otherwise, that could be mobilised for groups striving for racial justice.
We were aware that other teams in the UK and Ireland were already holding similar conversations around anti-racism and beginning to plan fundraisers. We focussed on how we as a group could best support and bring together this anti-racism work already being done within our community. We also wanted to further challenge ourselves both as a team and as a community to be more ambitious in our fundraising efforts and anti-racism commitment. The idea that culminated from this was a fundraising challenge. After a kick-off call with representatives from around 30 teams across the UK and Ireland and Alia Ayub from EUF, the UK and Ireland BLM Fundraiser was launched on 10th July. With five days to go, our total is sitting at £26,500, including £10,000 of unlocked match funding pledged by anonymous donors! Lookfly have additionally publicised the campaign and pledged to donate 20% of sales from their online store during the fundraiser period which will be split evenly between the racial justice organisations supported by teams raising over £1,000. For more information and up-to-date figures, check out the fundraiser dashboard. To get involved, check out the further information at the bottom of this article.
Before and beyond this fundraiser, it is important to recognise the actions taken to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the UK and Ireland ultimate community. In April, Tatenda Desmond Mombo hosted a conversation about racial diversity in UK ultimate (Tatenda talks…with Hazard: Racial Diversity in UK Ultimate). In June, Wan and Only Sports hosted a roundtable discussion featuring Canadian and UK ultimate players within the Black community. Fowzia Mahmood is another influential figure who has committed many years of her ultimate career to making the sport a more inclusive space. You can listen to her speak on the topic of diversity and inclusion here.
As a member of the UKU board, Fowzia hosted a forum for present and former players of Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds in the UK to share, discuss and process the impact of Black Lives Matter in their own life and within an ultimate context. Following this forum, the UKU acknowledged that there was “confirmation from those at the forum that people of colour do experience racist attitudes in and around our sport. This must change.” This is a critical acknowledgement for all members of the UK ultimate community and we must actively work to be anti-racist within our sport and beyond. A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee was created as an immediate response to this forum. The DEI committee will help inform and lead on changes and projects that reduce barriers to participation including lack of accessibility and representation in ultimate. To support the DEI committee and as part of the UK and Ireland BLM fundraiser, a UK Ultimate DEI fund was set up to kickstart diversity, equity and inclusion projects in UK ultimate.
The work to tackle racism and support diversity, inclusion and equity in ultimate and in the UK and Ireland more broadly did not start this summer, and it should not end with our fundraising challenge on 31st August, or with this season’s discussions. Anti-racism is not just a movement for now: a long-term commitment to change is required. As individuals, we must continue to educate ourselves, listen to players of colour in our community and sustainable actions to improve inclusivity. We must accept that barriers exist in our sport for many current and future players and that it is our collective responsibility to reduce these barriers.
As our sport strives to become more diverse and inclusive, we would like to encourage you all to reflect on the following questions:
- What does anti-racism look like in the context of the UK and Ireland ultimate community?
- How can our community continue to combat systemic racism long-term in a sustainable manner?
- What do we need to change as a community to embrace anti-racism?
As always, the comments section is open for discussion on this topic both here and on the ShowGame Facebook page.
The challenge is live until 31st August 2020, so there’s still time to get involved! You can find further information about the fundraiser itself and the amazing work many of the chosen charities can be found here. You can log individual donations to racial justice organisations by submitting receipts on the tracking form. If your team or charity isn’t on the list and you want it added, email us at UKIrelandUltimateBLM@gmail.com. Not part of a team? No problem – you can log an individual donation using the ‘N/A’ label or directly support one of the existing team campaigns listed below:
- Birmingham are fundraising for Sporting Equals.
- Brighton have hosted a Rocket League, a raffle, and a weekly quiz for a range of racial justice organisations including Sporting Equals. Raffle tickets can be bought via this link before 17:00 on 29th August – get involved!
- Bristol are fundraising for Stand Against Racism & Inequality: SARI.
- Brixton are fundraising for local charity BLAM (Black Learning Achievement and Mental Health) with team members taking on different challenges. For example, the FACKTS series where two teammates, Fi and Kyle, go head-to-head in a bid to determine the ultimate champion of marshmallow eating, obstacle course racing, and more. With one final challenge remaining, you can back your ultimate winner via their linked GoFundMe pages.
- Clapham are hosting weekly kit sales for the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.
- Deep Space are fundraising for Hackney’s Sistah Space, Lambeth’s Black Thrive and the UKU Diversity, Equity and Inclusion fund by donating some of their seasons costs and reaching out to their networks for direct donations.
- Devon Ultimate are donating a percentage of kit sales for Maja’s Education Project, who make books on anti-racism available for those who can’t afford them.
- Flame Ultimate are fundraising for the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI). Support Flame Ultimate here.
- Gravity hosted a Quiz for Change in July and XVI are also fundraising for the Irish Refugee Council.
- Iceni are hosting Webinars for Change fundraising for the Baytree Centre, Brixton, Show Racism The Red Card, and the UKU Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fund.
- Kapow Ultimate are donating a percentage of their training kit sales to Show Racism the Red Card.
- Oxford Ultimate have run a disc golf competition, a quiz, and a silent kit auction for Black Minds Matter UK.
- PELT and UL Ninjas are hosting a disc sale and direct donations you can get involved in to fundraise for Doras.
- Ranelagh are fundraising for MASI and Irish Network Against Racism (INAR). Support Ranelagh’s campaign here.
- Rebel are also fundraising for INAR by walking/cycling/running 2000km in August. Support Rebel here.
- SCRAM also took on a huge team fitness challenge, raising money for Sporting Equals. Keeping the central message of BLM close to their action, SCRAM are running the 6141km between Edinburgh and Louisville, KY in honour of Breonna Taylor. Support SCRAM here.
- Southampton University Ultimate are also raising for Sporting Equals by completing a 24-hour continuous training session. Support Southampton Ultimate here.
- Trinity College Dublin, TU Dublin and University College Dublin have been completing sponsored throws for the Irish Refugee Council, Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) and Show Racism The Red Card respectively. Support Trinity College Dublin here and TU Dublin here.
- Tribe and NUIG are fundraising for MASI and SARI. Support Tribe and NUIG here.