Notre Dame to promote racial justice with special shirts and shoes

On Sunday, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team will wear custom shoes and a pre-game jersey to promote racial justice in their nationally televised game against the No.6 Louisville Cardinals. shirt and shoes feature artwork by local artist Kamika Perry, a Jamaican immigrant who has lived in the South Bend area for over 10 years.

Perry calls the artwork on the t-shirt “Hope”. It represents a young black woman wearing a Notre Dame jersey with her hair tied up in the shape of two basketballs. The back of the jersey carries the message “We hope, we inspire, we believe”, a quote from coach Niele Ivey.

“For me as a coach and for my players and student-athletes to put it on our shoes just to display a message of hope for a better future, it’s enough to raise awareness about Black Lives Matter and the things that are going on in there. the climate in our society right now, ”said Ivey, the first black woman to coach in Notre Dame history. Illustrated sports.

Following the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team used their platform to draw attention to racial justice. In October, the team led a community march which they said was “to raise awareness of social injustice, uplift the black community and call attention to the dismantling of systems of oppression.”

The team also knelt during the national anthem in December ahead of its opener against Georgia Tech, releasing a declaration who said in part, “We recognize that this is only a small first step towards change in this country. This should not and will not be our only act to promote social change. “

Perry, the artist behind the new project, felt honored to work on it with Ivey’s program. “I believe social justice needs to focus on love in the future, the things that are hopeful, and we don’t need to focus on all the dark things anymore,” she says. “It’s time for us to lift each other up, and everyone comes together with their voices.

Each player has chosen a word or phrase for their shoes, from “BLM” to “Do More”. Perry hand painted 17 pairs of shoes, morning to night for weeks, in great detail. The 17s started out as plain white Under Armor basketball shoes, but with coats of paint, Perry turned them into a matte black. Each shoe was then hand painted with Perry’s own design of a heart-shaped fist beating in vibrant shades of red, blue and yellow.

Shoes painted by Kamika Perry for Notre Dame

Sunday won’t be the first time the Notre Dame women’s basketball team has worn a pre-game jersey to protest racial injustice. In December 2014, the team wore “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during warm-ups to protest the police murder of Eric Garner. At the time, the Irish were the first women’s basketball team to wear the jerseys, after other top players also wore them in the NBA and NFL.

Second-year guard Anaya Peoples said the 2014 squad inspired the current roster to publicly join the fight for racial justice. “They took that position and they raised awareness and it inspired us, actually. And we talked about it. We ask ourselves, okay, what can we do to continue this legacy of Notre Dame women’s basketball by talking about important issues? Said the peoples. “How you look and what you wear is powerful. I mean, from our shoes to our shirt, we’re determined to bring awareness to this. “

Perry, who admits she never had much time to watch sports, says the opportunity has made her a longtime fan of Notre Dame women’s basketball. Something Coach Ivey said, that I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry the way she conveyed this, but she said it was very important to her that she was able to use the position she was in to raise someone somewhere else like she was raised. And so to her, this project meant more to her because of what he did for me. And I just wish I could have jumped in. across the screen and hug her for that, because it was so touching.

Ivey says her job is to empower women and that she was happy to empower a local black artist. “To draw attention to her work, to show off her talent and just have a bigger platform for her, I was always very happy to do that.”

For Perry, Sunday can’t come soon enough. “I don’t know if my heart can take it,” she said.

“I’ll see if I can sit there and sit down during the game. I’m so thrilled by that.”

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