A few weeks ago, the New York Times Magazine ran what has become a notorious piece in American soccer cultures. That article, by Jay Caspian Kang, we think, was an attempt to start a conversation about race and ethnicity and diversity and inclusion in the stands at professional soccer games around the U.S.
We aren’t the first to say that Kang’s piece failed to spur that conversation. So we’ve decided to try and have part of what needs to be an ongoing, nationwide discussion here. This is a podcast episode entirely about that.
Adam, Jason and Ben aren’t in this episode — the three of us don’t really have any experiences as nonwhite or nonmale fans. Instead, Donald Wine II, who writes for Black and Red United as blazindw, is hosting this episode and talking to other fans of color about their experiences at MLS games, women’s pro soccer games and United States men’s and women’s national team games.
The episode starts with Donald and Rick the Blasian (who also writes here at B&RU as BlasianSays) discussing their experiences as members and leaders in D.C. United supporters groups. They talk about how they got into United and some times when they felt more, and less, comfortable and included in the culture. They end the segment with some thoughts on how to keep advancing D.C.’s mostly tolerant and inclusive supporters’ culture.
In the second segment, Donald sits down with Stephanie Yang of Stars and Stripes FC and The Bent Musket and Josie Becker of MLSsoccer.com to have a broader discussion on race and gender in the bleachers around the country. They talk about what changes they’ve seen in the stands over the years and address the notion that American culture borrows too heavily from other countries — specifically England. They end the show discussing the importance of vocal and visible leadership from supporters group leaders, teams and leagues in preventing exclusion.
We hope you’ll listen and keep an open mind. This isn’t an easy conversation to have, and it can be an uncomfortable topic to engage with.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to this special episode of Filibuster. If you have any responses, questions, criticisms, etc., please leave them in the comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach us on Twitter, @FilibusterDCU.
And thanks again to Donald for hosting and to Rick, Steph and Josie for agreeing to come on the show.