In wake of the callous killing of George Floyd, Cal women’s basketball players Cailyn Crocker and Sierra Richey took action. Spearheading the formation of the Racial Justice Council, they helped create a safe space for Cal student-athletes to converse over pressing issues of racism and discrimination. In 2022, that work to strive for a more equal and inclusive society continues. Here is The Daily Californian’s follow-up conversation with Crocker and Richey two years later.
What was involved in creating this council and how has it evolved over these past couple of years?
“To be honest, it started off as feeling helpless, and not really knowing what to do. Sierra and I connected and she had created a Google doc full of two, three pages worth of things that possibly could be done and figuring out how we wanted to connect,” Crocker said. “One of the biggest ones who helped us get to this thought process was Takiyah Jackson. We decided to call it the Racial Justice Council, and really just create a safe space for people to come no matter what color you are, what race you are or who you are. To come together and just learn and have allies, create allies, but also allow people of color to come and tell their truth.”
“And just finding other leaders among student-athletes so that it wasn’t just me and Cailyn creating all of this,” Richey said. “We found Fernando (Andrade) on the soccer team, Brynn (Zorilla), who plays field hockey, and countless other people have stepped up to be leaders and push our vision even farther than we could have imagined.”
One of the focuses of the Racial Justice Council you formed was education. How has this council helped educate people on institutionalized racism and discrimination, and how has this tangibly played out?
“We partnered with the Multicultural (Community) Center on a power, privilege and oppression workshop. We talked about the different types of -isms and microaggressions,” Crocker said. “Being able to understand and put names to things that people feel on an everyday basis, it was great education for everybody. We were able to recap and talk about what we learned with each other, how we’re going to take this into our everyday lives.”
“In addition to that formal training, creating that baseline terminology and those definitions so that we could move forward from there, a lot of the time we were holding space, and that is just as important as any class we might have offered. Being able to hold space following the violence towards AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) communities, hearing Colleen Haas’ experiences working in the legal field against these injustices, hearing Dr. Ty Douglas talk about all of his experience working fighting for justice — uplifting people in those ways has been incredible.”
What are you most proud of when it comes to the goals your council has accomplished in 2020? Are there any big projects you have in the works that you’re seeking to achieve?
“We’re looking forward to setting up our community service aspect of the Racial Justice Council. Allowing students to become mentors, become activists, become involved in community based projects,” Richey said. “What I’m most proud of since 2020 — we had a panel of Black student-athletes and alumni who were able to speak on all of the incredible work that they’re doing to further this mission outside of just Cal with their individual projects. We’re so lucky to have our teammate Jadyn Bush on there, talking about her work in public policy and helping formerly incarcerated folks find housing. Having so many other amazing people, it really just gave so many people something to strive for. And it was just so exciting to have that space to truly celebrate that.”