Emma Shields

City Rocks Basketball | German U16 National Team | Age 16 | @emmavshields

My name is Emma Shields. I live in Troy, New York, but I’m originally from Germany and I go to Emma Willard School. I play basketball for my High School, the City Rocks for AAU, and I play for the German National U16 team. I am biracial- my mother is black (Ghanaian and German) and my dad is white. 

Last year, a white teammate of mine used the n-word singing along to a song before practice. This was not the first time I saw this girl do that. She had posted a video on her snapchat story singing it in a car. When I saw the video, I was shocked. I would have never expected her to do that. The video had made me extremely disappointed in her and uncomfortable, so when it happened the next week at practice, one would think I wouldn’t have been as shocked, but I was even more appalled because I had also considered her a friend. The most upsetting part for me was that when it happened, the only other person who even noticed was my only other black teammates. Everyone else continued to sing the song without acknowledging what had happened. My heart felt as if it had dropped to my stomach. I felt so uneasy and disrespected. I have never looked at her the same and lost all respect for her.

Her using the word, even if it wasn’t used in a derogatory way in the song, became derogatory when it came out of her mouth. The blatant racism and ignorance expressed by her was one of many that black people have to experience when surrounded by ignorant and uneducated people who do not see the wrong in what they are doing. This also shows the problems that can occur when being the only black person or one of the few on a sports team consisting of mostly white athletes. We have to continue calling out acts of racism and educating people on the history of the n-word to make a change and allow for everyone to feel comfortable and accepted in sports.