If you or someone you know is struggling or in a crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

  • Beyond Sport on Instagram
  • Beyond Sport on TikTok
  • Beyond Sport on Youtube
  • Beyond Sport on Twitter (X)
  • Beyond Sport on Facebook
  • Beyond Sport on Linkedin
Beyond Sport
Quick Exit
Quick Exit
Click to leave if you need privacy.

Sam’s Story: Allyship to Black Communities

One way to honor Black History Month is to become a better ally. Explore Sam Zurn's story on allyship to Black communities.

One way to honor Black History Month is to become a better ally. Yes, February is about celebrating Black culture, heritage and the contributions made by Black Americans. But it’s also about taking a step further – to honor Black history 365-days a year.

Allyship is about proactively ensuring that everyone is treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. It’s about how we listen, speak and act. And what we do to educate ourselves on topics we don’t know much about.

In the case of a White ally to Black communities, it’s about acknowledging White privilege and unlearning harmful biases or behaviors.

We heard from Sam Zurn, Director of Learning at Doc Wayne – our Head In The Game Expert Partner – about his allyship to Black communities.

Sam: Doing My Own Work Around Whiteness

When I think about allyship to Black communities, one thing that comes to mind is the importance of doing my own work around Whiteness.

How has my Whiteness interacted with my other identities to shape the way I move about Boston, New England, or the United States more broadly?

How am I unlearning harmful biases and/or behaviors that I’ve been socialized in so that I can show up for Black people without causing further racial harm?

Part of my allyship has been reading books that explore race, racism, and anti-racism, as well as their interactions with other identities, like gender.

Sam: Educating Myself On Racial And Gender Equity

I keep these books, and others, on hand at my desk. I read a few pages at the start of my day, or when I’m taking a break from emails and projects.

  • Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm by Robin DiAngelo. Chapter 5 has been particularly helpful. It maps out the specific ways that White people who identify as racially progressive can still intentionally or unintentionally cause the most daily harm to people of color. Some examples that have stood out to me are “downplaying our advantages” and “focusing on delivery.”

  • The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks. Chapter 9, “Healing Male Spirit,” stands out to me in its exploration of what it means for men to “uncover greater soulfulness” by developing relational skills and compassion, rather than domination.

  • The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves by Shawn Ginwright, PhD. His third pivot, “From Problem to Possibility” has been a particularly helpful reframe for me to sit with as I think about “problem loving” vs. “possibility planning” in my own life and work.

Explore More Black History Month Content

We have a range of resources for teens and adults on Black mental health, celebrating Black joy, breaking stigma and more. Why not check out one of our resources below.

How racism contributes to the mental health crisis for Black Americans.

Mental Health Support For Black Teens.

How black teens can help their mental health by celebrating Black History Month.

Or Black Athletes breaking barriers in sport and mental health, including LeBron James, Simone Biles and Byron Perkins.

We hope these stories inspire you, just like they inspire us. Remember, you’re not alone in your journey.

‘Head in the Game’ is here to help support young peoples mental health. To learn more about the ‘Head in the Game’ program click here. Young people can also explore resources to support their mental wellbeing by clicking here.