Silencing Destiny Adams shows less uniformity than letting her wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt

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Destiny Adams

Destiny Adams wasn’t looking for a fight.

Last week the Manchester girls basketball star, who’s headed to the University of North Carolina in the fall, made a presentation at her school board meeting with a request to wear a “Black Lives Matter” shirt during warmups this season. Her intent was to help bring about awareness to the lack of equality and injustices in the Black community.

The board denied her request.

Destiny’s words to the board last Wednesday, from the original story via Patch.com:

“To me, Black Lives Matter has nothing to do with the police,” Adams said. “I have nothing against the police. It’s just that our lives cannot and will not matter until Black lives do.”

In the last few days Adams has received all kinds of support from the basketball community and beyond.

Board President Ken Pate emphasized the issue of Adams representing the entire school when she competes.

“We as a Board of Education are elected to represent the whole school,” Pate said. “And our uniforms have to be uniform, that’s the whole thing. So we’re going to ask that the uniforms have the school name and the student’s name if they choose, and nothing else.”

Destiny recently posted this response on Instagram since the ruling:

Being told no, with a flimsy and shallow explanation of “uniformity,” was an act of racism and ignorance…

By silencing me in an attempt to uphold this neutrality, the Board has exposed their lack of commitment to racial equality and shown their complete disregard for the Black students and families in the district.

Destiny deserves credit for her character. A less mindful approach would have been wearing the shirt without telling or asking anyone in order to make an even bolder statement. Apparently the warmup shirts are designed by the seniors of the team every year. Destiny saw a plain Black Lives Matter shirt on Amazon and shared with her teammates. Some of them went ahead and bought it.

When coaches learned about the shirt, they suggested maybe putting it on a sleeve for the players who did want to wear it. A team meeting was held, and the decision was moved onto the athletic director and Superintendent, which then made its way to the school board.

The fact that Destiny took the approach that she did should have earned her instant credibility towards her main stance.

By denying this specific request, it sends the message that they don’t care about black lives enough to let her wear a T-shirt in warmups.

Destiny’s mom commented:

“She felt the board didn’t really listen to what she was saying,” Lisa Adams said. “They didn’t suggest any alternative, they didn’t have a discussion. It was clear they had already made a decision.”

The challenge with the phrase is the distinction between the notion and the organization. The term itself was birthed out of the blatant belief that black lives simply do not matter in this country, and the evidence has been overwhelming.

For many wanting to abide by pure common sense, it’s been as simple as that.

Unfortunately the Manchester Board of Education chose to fear the political perception of a phrase over the support of their very own.

Destiny Adams has led their program to three consecutive sectional state championships, was named First Team All-State last season, has over 1,500 points in her career and is close to holding the all-time scoring record at Manchester.

“Plenty of little girls look up to me,” she said. “If they see me on social media or in the gym with this saying on my back, it will teach them to stand up for what’s right and always let their voices be heard.”

“Being able to wear this saying on my shirt will make me feel like I am starting to make the change I want to see in America,” she said.

Nurturing student-athletes is about helping them develop both in their sport and in the world. The young basketball stars of today like Destiny Adams, who can gain massive social media followings while in high school, are watching the biggest basketball stars in the world such as LeBron James and Maya Moore use their platforms and social influence to spread awareness about social and racial injustice.

This would be an example of supporting a student-athlete who’s trying to achieve what the education system is meant to cultivate: barrier-breakers and agents of change.

There is no appropriate explanation for denying this request by Destiny Adams, and in doing so, in preventing her from using her basketball influence to impact society, in refusing to promote true uniformity, they’ve actually created much larger issues going forward.

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