Soccer in the Streets provides BLM forum for youth

Clarkston youth soccer players attending BLM protests Photos By: DaveWilliamsonPhotography

Clarkston youth soccer players attending BLM protests Photos By: DaveWilliamsonPhotography

Soccer in the Streets has been working with youth players for 30 years to build a more equitable society.

“As we work in low-income communities, we know they are impacted the most by the tragic events that continue to happen in our country. These events have hit children especially hard, and we want to make sure our kids’ voices are heard,” according to the organization.

As part of an ongoing effort to support the Black Lives Matter movement and support young players, Soccer in the Streets organized a forum for players in the Southside as a starting point to share their point of view. The forum was led by coach Ulric Alsobrook who manages the Southside program, and Nyema Johnson, one of the parents from the Southside.

Eighteen kids and five parents participated. Johnson moderated the forum as she is a homeschooled black mother who was able to create a dialogue where the 8- to 14-year-old kids were able to share their thoughts and feelings.

“My goal was to give these beautiful families space to process, to share in each other’s pain, and to be reminded that they are valued. I personally know that no matter what they see on TV as their representation or even experience, they are made in the image of God,” Johnson said.

Throughout the forum, topics consisted of the death of George Floyd, racism, police brutality, and what protests mean. The kids were able to speak up and let their voices be heard.

The following quotes are anonymous, but Soccer in the Streets felt it was important to share what many of the kids and parents had to say:

“I felt mad that something hasn’t happened to the police officers till way after the fact no matter what their skin color is.”

“I’m a mother and in the army for many years, but how we are treated of color makes me look at all of this in a different light as a mother wearing a uniform every day. It’s super frustrating.”

“I feel anger, confusion, and sadness. It makes me angry because it’s been happening for many years in different ways. Confusion because I don’t know how he can do that to another human being. Sadness because the people who hurt George Floyd don’t realize he had a family and he’s no longer with them.”

“I feel anger and sadness but it is motivational; because we need to step up as minorities and we are here for a purpose. We need to fulfill our purpose.”

“I feel awful and uncomfortable at times. It’s stressful and makes me feel anxious. As a kid, I feel scared. I could be trying to exercise outside and what if the police try to arrest me because of the color of my skin?”