Sports Management Student Karess Taylor-Hughes On Sports and Social Justice

Karess Taylor-Hughes, an activist and student in the M.S. in sports management program, spoke on SiriusXM's radio show "The Outfield" about how sports can change the way we view African American and LGBTQ struggles. Her story is also featured in the forthcoming documentary The New Black by director Yoruba Richen.

On "The Outfield," hosted by sports broadcaster Eddie Robinson, she said, "I always wanted to [study] sports, but what I wanted to do was give back to the community….You look at the NFL and the NBA – it's mostly people of color."

Referring to the acclaimed documentary about young professional basketball aspirants, she said, "There are all of these 'hoop dreams' in communities of color." This admiration leads young fans to mimic their favorite athletes, which sometimes includes these sports stars' homophobic attitudes. 

She wanted to understand that fraught phenomenon in order to combat it. "That's why I'm getting this master's degree," she said, "so that I can get that higher level of understanding: how the marketing works in sports, how the employment system may work, how our media works." She's interested in leveraging sports to tell the stories of inspiring LGBTQ black athletes.

Taylor-Hughes pointed out that sports have offered platforms for athletes to become potential social change agents. She cited Arthur Ashe and Magic Johnson, who both changed the face of HIV, and Muhammad Ali, who resisted the draft and took an anti-war stance during the Vietnam War.

Of professional athletes who are changing the way we look at LGBTQ issues, she said, "We can't forget about Kye Allums, who's an African American, a trans individual, who came out at George Washington University."

"It's important that these stories are told," she said. "I believe once we get more of that platform and really grasp our own mics, an even more powerful story can be told."