My name is Raina Harmon and I am an assistant coach at the University of Iowa. I also serve on the University of Iowa Athletic Department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Accountability Board, that is passionate about creating more equitable systems within our athletic department. Here is a part of my story and my involvement with social justice.
This season I decided to use my platform as a college coach to bring awareness to the social injustices in America, specifically those faced by the Black population. I decided to take advantage of the current mask mandates by wearing masks that I designed on game days to highlight the systemic injustices and events that have plagued America’s Black population for 400 years. These masks have given me the opportunity to educate others, to have thought-provoking conversations with players and staff, and to help others begin the work of pushing to reform these systems to bring a more equitable society. I reveal the masks on my social media accounts each game-day along with details about the injustice. The injustices have included the death of Breonna Taylor, the Black Wall Street Massacre, mass incarceration, and the Tuskegee Experiment.
Three years ago I created a “safe space” initiative for some of the Black female student-athletes at the University of Iowa. These athletes get together monthly in a space where they can fully be themselves, free from racial bias. In this space, these young women share their struggles and highlight their successes as it relates to their intersectionality while navigating a predominately white campus. In addition to conversing with one another, the athletes are introduced to other successful Black women in various career fields to help them build their network post-college.
Coaches and players in the B1G Ten reflect on the significance of Vice President Kamala Harris being elected. To watch, click here.