In the summer of 2014, Dr. Sharita Mathis-Lawson and Tonyona Rice began to travel around the country with their daughters, Marci Lawson and Angel Rice hosting cheer clinics and camps. At almost every camp at least one parent would say, “I drove hours to bring my daughter to this camp because she doesn’t get see other black cheerleaders at this level” From being in cheerleading for over many years, they understood exactly what that statement meant and it was time to change the game!
Black Girls Cheer (BGC), was started in 2015 as an online Facebook group to provide a space for young cheerleaders and families to provide a place for cheerleaders, their families, coaches, gym/program owns and minority owned spirit industry brands to celebrate their victories, discuss their tribulations (without feeling “less than”), and have a space to truly open up about the highs and the lows that come with competitive cheerleading. The group is now home to 5,000 Facebook members and thousands of Instagram followers advocating to change and more diversity and inclusion in imagery surrounding young Black and minority women in this sport and for the implementation of education training and education further support minority participants who already exist and are yet to come.
Change begins with the individual. Even if you are not a Black girl that cheers you can still be apart of this movement. Ask yourself; How could cheerleading become more accepting of the diverse population that already exists? What are some things that people in leadership positions within your cheer organizations (on a local or national level) could do to make cheerleading move diverse and inclusive?