Marquette athletes become educated on BLM following Jacob Blake incident

Marquette+student-athletes+protest+against+racial+injustices+in+the+country+on+September+4.

Photo by Joceline Helmbreck

Marquette student-athletes protest against racial injustices in the country on September 4.

Jackson Gross, Sports Reporter

While it has almost been two months since the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the emotional response to the incident is still lingering. Police were called about a domestic situation  and according to multiple official sources, the female caller referred to Blake as her “boyfriend”, said he was not permitted to be on the premises and that he’d taken her car keys and was refusing to give them back. Blake was shot seven times by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey while trying to enter the vehicle. Protests erupted in Kenosha, with some turning violent, in one instance where two protesters were killed by Kyle Rittenhouse.

The shooting has impacted many people around Marquette University’s campus, including those involved with Marquette Athletics, so much so that Sept. 4 Marquette athletes organized a protest in response to the shooting.

Marquette men’s basketball senior forward Theo John and Marquette women’s soccer senior defender Maddie Monticello spoke at the march and gave their reactions to the shooting in interviews following the march.

“I can’t speak for the whole team, but me personally, I was shocked, but not surprised, and as much as that hurts to say, it’s the truth,” John said. 

For Monticello, she had to put her phone down due to the shock of the shooting when she heard about it.

“I was speechless that night that it happened,” Monticello said. “I was actually driving through Kenosha, coming back from Chicago to school, and I got back to my apartment and my friends asked, ‘did you hear?’ and we started talking about it, (and) I had to put my phone down because I was just appalled by it.” 

This police shooting and the protest in early September inspired John to do what he could to help change the world he lives in.

“It’s just a constant reminder that no matter where you go, you live in America, and you live through it,” John said. “It’s something that motivates me personally … to do what I can to change it while I can.” John said. 

This also has motivated Monticello to learn and understand what her Black peers go through on a daily basis.

“I’ve actually reached out to a lot of people who are Black and I said, ‘I don’t know (what it’s like), I just want to listen and learn from you, but I also don’t want to put this on you to teach me,'” Monticello said. 

Monticello found that for teammates and herself, educating themselves is the most important thing to do in order to understand the social justice dilemmas throughout the United States.

“We are a predominantly white team, so we have to take the approach of what can we learn about the situation that’s been happening in the world over all these years and educate ourselves to better ourselves for the future,” Monticello said. 

Monticello also said reading articles, watching documentaries and reading books are helpful to learn more about the topic. She even suggests reading “White Fragility,” a 2018 novel by Robin DiAngelo. The book discusses why it is difficult for white people to talk about racism, which makes it very informational to readers.

Monticello said that when you read those books and watch documentaries  you need to ‘make sure you back it up,’ when acting on that information.

Marquette men’s basketball sophomore guard Symir Torrence said he also thinks there need to be a conversation about the issue of race in America. Torrence himself has had this conversation with people ranging from old friends in his hometown to the administration at Marquette.

“I had a lot of older friends and younger friends that I haven’t spoken to in a while and they just want to have the conversation … (about) what is going on in the world,” Torrence said. “Just having that conversation around the campus, just talking to different people, talking with our administrators, talking with our president, and just finding ways (of) how we can create change.”

Monticello herself has taken action on what she has learned, pushing her teammates to register to vote by Oct. 30 and for them to vote.

“That’s your duty as an American citizen. So, following through with that is also crucial,” Monticello said. “I’ve been reaching out to my team weekly to say, ‘hey, we are at 90% voting registration.’ I challenge us to get to 100 (percent) and … then I can text someone and say ‘do you want help figuring out how to vote? Let me sit down and talk you through this,’ so it’s like I have that advantage … being able to reach out and make this change.”

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at jackson.gross@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacksonGross6.