By: Darbi Lockridge // @sonchyenne
As Switch the Pitch’s Official Houston Dynamo Reporter, I requested the opportunity to add to the group’s statement regarding the racist incident at the Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars match this weekend. In addition to my position with STP, I am a fan of the club, which is an MLS/NWSL partnership. I am not a fan of the club because of trophies or big name signings (obviously) but because I feel strongly aligned with the values that I have perceived from the team, its management and employees, and its overall vision for soccer both in the community and beyond.
All soccer leagues, clubs, and individual stakeholders within those organizations must maintain accountability around issues regarding racial profiling and racist enforcement, and the Houston Dash and their staff are no exception. While I absolutely hold this incident up as an example of racist profiling in the enforcement of policies and protocol, I want to take this opportunity to make some observations on race in my home club on a wider scale.
I believe that a key contributor to the continued presence of systemic racism in our stadiums has to do with a lack of diversity in executive and management staff at those stadiums and in their resident clubs. Reviewing the race and gender diversity statistics for MLS and NWSL staff from both the Fare and TIDES reports from 2020, as well as with my own experience with the clubs, I’m incredibly encouraged that the Houston Dynamo FC/Houston Dash offices seem to be on the right side of these statistics and are sustaining and growing that diversity year over year.
As a Houston Dynamo FC/Houston Dash fan, I encourage my club to do better than their initial statement about the incident. Beyond that, however, I expect that my club will do better. While there are many clubs that are positioned demographically to continue supporting the class and race systems inherent in the league structure, I know from data and experience that Houston is capable of creating something better and continuing to improve. The initial incident was an error that needs to be addressed. The club’s initial statement was a misstep. An appropriate correction to both simply will not come from a room of wealthy, white men. However, Houston’s Executive Team is one of the few in the league with an encouraging number of BIPOC and women already in place to shift this culture.
I join my team at Switch the Pitch and so many others when I say, “Houston Dash, do better.” I would just like readers to understand that my statement comes with true faith in their capability.
Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @sonchyenne