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Systemic Racism: We Must Push Forward Through This Sea

By Sway Batista

The Muhammad Ali Center is a not for profit organization that is dedicated entirely toward the preservation of the Greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali. Along with preservation of Muhammad’s legacy, the Ali Center is an advocate and educator of social justice in all public spaces hosting several educational and informative trainings for all to experience.

At the Center, Muhammad Ali’s six core principles are apparent throughout the whole facility: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Respect, Giving, and Spirituality. Applying these principles in my personal life has been the cause of so much growth and positivity, both tangibly and intangibly. I suggest all of my peers to do the same and learn from the Greatest.

My time at the Muhammad Ali Center has been one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had. More specifically, the amount of time I got to spend in the "Truth Be Told” Exhibit. This temporary exhibit is a reflection on all the policies made that have impacted black and brown lives since the birth of America. In this exhibit I found that my already existing fears were intensified. The black and brown lives of this nation now, and have always had a somber existence. The sheer number of obstacles standing in the way is daunting. So many policies were made for the sole purpose of hindering or harming black and brown lives. The roots of systemic racism run deeper than the eye can see, so deep that the only thing I can compare it to is the sea.

Yes, a sea, a sea of crippling helplessness bearing down on you every moment, not allowing a single second to rest. The immense weight of that sea is enough to break spirits, and make souls cry out in agony. However, as grim as the odds seem, as the forces of hatred and oppression may be at large, we must not give up. We must steel our nerves to correct societies mistakes. Under that crippling weight I had to remind myself where I stood. The Muhammad Ali Center is a beacon of hope and strength, and I reminded myself that there was no need or time to despair. In my time here, I have been both motivated and inspired by the teachings of Muhammad Ali.

To all the black and brown lives just like mine, it is our turn to fight for justice, it is our turn to remain hopeful when we face uncertainty, it is our turn to shake up the world. The groundwork has already been laid, and footholds have already been established. Muhammad Ali was a great fighter and an even greater man. Through his legacy, he still teaches us how to fight the disease of racism and replace it with love and understanding.

To the black and brown lives of America, we must stand together and push forward. We must vote, we must occupy public spaces, we must make it known that our existence is in fact beautiful and that our lives matter just as much as any other. We must fight for the sake of those who gave us the chance to, we must also fight for our own sake because we deserve a better reality and an equal opportunity at the future. As elusive as equality has been, we must continue to strain in hopes that one day we grasp it firmly in hand. Let us use the groundwork, take advantage of those footholds, and push forward through this sea. When it feels helpless, we can look at great people like Muhammad Ali, and understand that giving up is not an option.

Sway Batista is a senior at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana. He is majoring in Art and Design and minoring in Communications. Sway was a communications intern at the Ali Center during the fall 2020 semester.

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