Sophomore Ixquel Sarin wrote the following letter to Menlo College in Atherton, CA in response to homophobic and racist harassment that she and her team members experienced during a soccer match against Menlo College’s women’s soccer team on October 28.
As any other athlete, I deserve the freedom to engage in sport free of personal discrimination. The events that took place on Saturday will forever stick with me as an encounter that challenged my unwavering strength and belief in myself.
Nothing could have prepared me for the abuse and harassment that was directed toward my teammates and myself. Why is it that I must feel that the next time I go play soccer with another college/ educational institution I should be prepared to face words of violence, discrimination, hatred, and fear? When hearing the words “Dyke,” “Fucking Lesbian” and “Bitch” by another women, I felt completely helpless and unprepared.
I have educated myself to be aware and understanding of different communities, however I felt completely useless when these words were blatantly shouted out by another team directed toward my friends. I personally felt attacked and marginalized as the “other,” and an exhibition for amusement through my humiliation. I was emotionally hostage of how I should have reacted to this. I witnessed how openly an individual can express their hatred to another and at the same time have the community completely overlook it.
It didn’t stop with the players making comments, but escalated with the family and friends present at the bleachers cheering on the way these women were openly talking to the Mills College soccer team. I want to highlight the players disrespect and the disrespect of the families, friends and coaches at Menlo College and their insensitivity to what was be said and expressed.
The soccer field was used as an opportunity for individuals to separate, discriminate, humiliate and dehumanize another human being. It is evident that we continue to live in a world where structural discrimination cannot be eliminated. How can we dismantle these structures in which homophobia and racism still exist?
An apology, awareness, sensitivity, education and the ability to communicate are solutions to the problems of what happened.