Recreation Against Racism “stand together against racism and hate”

Local community event Recreation Against Racism aims to peaceably combat recent events with loving unity

Posted: Monday, March 13, 2017 1:00 pm | Updated: 9:34 pm, Mon Mar 13, 2017.

Liberty Lake’s HUB Sports Center hosted more than the usual sports camp for youth on Sunday, March 12. This time, the nonprofit organization lived out its mission to the fullest to  “join the communities of faith, sports, education, business and government to positively impact our youth and region through events and programs that enhance life skills” with the Recreation Against Racism event for all ages.

“I think it’s vitally important, because the tenor of our nation is boiled down to our communities is such that, if we don’t come together and show a united heart for humanity, we’re going to tear ourselves apart,” NAACP President Phillip Tyler said. “What’s more important than that is we’re going to leave and our children are going to inherit what we are going to leave them, and I’m not talking from a financial standpoint. I’m talking about  the conditions, the atmosphere, the attitudes, et cetera. Hate is a learned behavior. We have to show them, and leave to them, a community that is loving, that is beloved, that is unified.”

The event came to fruition through a collaboration of several organizations, notably the Peaceful Communities Roundtable, brought together by Tyler and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers; Spokane NAACP; the Spokane Human Rights Commission; Spokane County Human Rights Task Force and the Spokane Interfaith Council along with the HUB staff.

[These partners] are hosting the Recreation Against Racism event that hopes to bring together friends, families and neighbors to enjoy speeches, recreational activities and a meal together,” Tyler said in a press release. “The hope is to spark a conversation and relationships that will last beyond our time together on Sunday and will show our community we stand together, as a team, against racism and hate.”

Recreation Against Racism had been in the works since March 1. Tyler said that 70 families confirmed their attendance with 200 individuals interested in the event. The day included games such as basketball, bubble ball, Futsal-soccer, pickleball and volleyball.

“Sports are a great way for people to come together and do something positive,” said HUB Director Phil Champlin. “It’s a great way to utilize this space and do something fantastic for the community. This is why the HUB exists: to do events like this.”

The commitment through all the activities was to “stand together against racism and hate” and included “breaking bread” with a communal meal as well as informative exercise. The event was open to the public for all ages and was free with a donation of clothing or food to combat poverty, which resulted in full donation bins by the entrance.

In light of recent hate crimes in the Logan Neighborhood and the MLK Jr. Family Outreach Center, as well as White Nationalists fliers being posted around Spokane, these organizations felt the need to stand up in peaceful unity. The MLK Jr. Center’s defacement in November prompted the formation of the Peaceable Communities Roundtable, which includes Mayor Dave Condon, Police Chief Craig Meidl and GSBA President Caleb Dawson, among others.

“Racism still exists today: kind of like how precipitation looks different, one day it might be snow, another day it might be rain,” said Dawson. “But both days you’ll still end up wet if you’re outside. That’s a way to think about racism. It might not look the same as it did yesterday, but that doesn’t mean we’re not still dealing with it.”

Dawson addressed the late afternoon audience, many of whom wore Recreation Against Racism shirts that featured a question mark in a box like the Black Eyed Peas’ symbol in the “Where is the Love” music video, with two main points: the politics of respectability and deconstructing prejudgments with curiosity.

Recreation Against Racism succeeded in gaining attendance from a truly diverse community. Toddlers played dodgeball alongside adults, the mayor and politicians of both parties chased around a soccer ball while inside of inflatable bubble ball suits and all genders and ethnicities took to the volleyball courts. The friendly enjoyment was apparent on the faces of participants, and laughs as well as cheers could be frequently heard between upbeat songs and court sounds.

“Coming together is so critical and we really are part of a larger community, a community that represents all of us,” said Condon.

Through all the fun, games and connections that took place in the HUB at Recreation Against Racism, the message of unity was fulfilled and not forgotten.

“Our resolve will be tested, but we will not be intimidated or silenced,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell in a video message.  “That’s why events like today, where we are fighting back by being together and speaking loudly to our neighbors, to our larger communities, to our greater families, all say we must condemn racism and hate.”

Libby Kamrowski is a News Editor. Follow her on Twitter: @libbykamrowski.

LINK to online article.