BYU athletics promotes the need for ‘A Long Talk About The Uncomfortable Truth’
The last 18 months have brought a heightened awareness of the universal need to not only avoid racist words and actions, but also to be proactive in preventing these acts from occurring.
Members of the anti-racism program “A Long Talk About the Uncomfortable Truth” visited with BYU athletes and coaches in October to unpack the truth about the history of racism in America, helping student-athletes find their voice and activate their ability to live an anti-racist life.
What is A Long Talk?
“Our goal is to put an anti-racist at every dinner table in America, to dismantle white supremacy and end racism in 15 years,” said Kamal Carter, president and co-founder of A Long Talk.
A Long Talk About The Uncomfortable Truth is an anti-racism activation experience in which participants complete a multi-media course covering the history of racism in the United States and the continuous impact it has today. The program leaders then engage in group discussions over three days.
To achieve their goal, they work to educate about the history of racism in America and the effect it has on communities today. Each participant is required to complete a preparation course that includes a lecture from lawyer Jeffrey Robinson titled, “The History of Race in America.”
“The pre-work really sets the tone,” co-founder Kyle Williams said. “We’re not trying to convince people that racism is real. We are on a mission to put an anti-racist at every dinner table and to make that a reality, we believe we can educate to end hate.”
After completing the prework, participants engage in a conversation with Williams and Carter in which they discuss what they learned and what questions they still have. The men also explore strategies to help participants become not just non-racist, but actively anti-racist.
BYU’s involvement with A Long Talk
BYU first became associated with A Long Talk in the summer of 2020 when Bobby Horodyski, BYU men’s basketball director of operations and assistant coach Cody Fueger participated in a session with basketball coaches from around the country.
“I only have great things to say about them,” Horodyski said. “They are world-class people doing unbelievable things.”
Horodyski said that he and Fueger were deeply moved by their experience and encouraged the rest of the basketball coaching staff, including head coach Mark Pope, to participate in the experience, which they did.
Before long, word spread to Whitney Johnson, BYU associate athletic director for student-athlete development, diversity and inclusion, who presented the idea to Director of Athletics Tom Holmoe and his team. In July of this year, Holmoe, Associate Athletic Director Liz Darger, Johnson and their team invited 40 coaches and administrators to participate in what they called a “transformative experience.”
“A Long Talk About the Uncomfortable Truth is one of the most transformational (Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) experiences I’ve ever had the privilege of participating in, and certainly the most influential anti-racism training I’ve ever done,” Johnson said. “Kyle and Kamal are inspired and are pure educators at their core.”
A Long Talk in Provo
Williams and Carter recently visited BYU to talk with athletes and administrators about what it takes to be an anti-racist and how to do it.
While on campus, they provided 438 individual experiences to student-athletes, athletic department staff and administrators.
According to an athletic department report of the visit, Williams and Carter met with 263 BYU student-athletes from the men’s and women’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, baseball, swim and dive, spirit squad, gymnastics and other teams during their three-day trip to Provo.
“It was such a unique experience and learning opportunity, especially at a place like BYU,” BYU men’s basketball forward Caleb Lohner said. “It just continued to emphasize our desire to grow as people and as a university. For me, being able to further my education about diversity and inclusion to the best of my ability has been something I think about very often and having Kyle and Kamal come and share their stories, experience and vision was really special.”
Each of the teams shared a similar sentiment — meeting with Williams and Carter and participating in the experience opened their eyes to new ways they can use their platforms to help others understand what can be done to make a positive impact.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with how the week went having Kyle and Kamal on campus,” Johnson said. “After getting to know Kyle and Kamal — their personal stories, their backgrounds and their passion — I consider them dear friends. I believe they were called of God to do this work, and we will continue to involve them in our efforts to cultivate a culture of anti-racism here at BYU.”
More information about A Long Talk About The Uncomfortable Truth can be found on the program’s website.