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As Black History Month begins, we want to shine a light on Colorado State University athletes and the role social media plays in allowing them to advocate for social change.

As student-athletes, there is an unspoken (and sometimes explicit) code of ethics they must uphold on the internet and in the ways they interact online. While these online ethics can be a bit limiting to the freedom with which athletes are allowed to express themselves and what they believe in, some student-athletes believe promoting social change outweighs any costs of potentially breaking the unspoken code.

For student-athletes Allam “Sudi” Bushara and David Aggrey, using their social media platforms to advocate for social change is indispensable to who they are on and off the field.

Bushara is a third-year CSU student and track and field athlete. While his teammates and CSU fans can look up to him as an athlete, he explained that he uses his social media to share credible posts about the ways in which the U.S. justice system oppresses people of color more than white people.

“I am an African American male, which ties into something huge — my life.” -David Aggrey, student-athlete at Colorado State University 

“I feel like this is something everyone needs to know,” Bushara said. “This is real stuff: People are living oppressed.”

“This isn’t something that I feel I need to be pressured into doing; this is something I need to do,” he continued. “For us athletes, there is a standard that must be upheld. It’s kind of like, ‘Don’t get into trouble, don’t get into controversy, just come here and do your job’ kind of stuff. So sometimes I feel the pressure of not being able to use my social media, but I choose to care less.”

Bushara and Aggrey feel as though players’ freedom to share their voices online does not end when they put their jersey on to represent CSU on the playing fields.

“In sports, people just think of us as being just a football player or just an athlete, but social justice regards people; it’s tied into everything we do,” Aggrey said. “Once I take off my pads, my jersey and everything like that, I go back to being a regular African American male. It doesn’t matter where I’m at; it doesn’t matter where I go. Yeah, I’m on the football team — I’m No. 47 David Aggrey, but off the field, I am an African American male, which ties into something huge — my life.”

Aggrey is a senior football player at CSU and highly values social justice. As a minority student-athlete, he feels the need to help educate his followers to help advance social change within African American communities and with how the justice system still oppresses people of color.

David Aggrey Colorado State University honorable Football player smiling in the Black African American Culture Center.David Aggrey, a Colorado State University football player, smiles in the Black/African American Cultural Center Jan. 26. (Collegian | Michael Giles )

“I place a huge value on social justice because it’s tied into everything we do as athletes,” Aggrey said. “It’s incorporated into our lives — our daily lives — and many African Americans and other minorities play sports. For me, playing a sport such as football that has a huge minority population, social justice is huge. I place a huge value on social justice because it affects me directly.”

While social media is a great place to share information and the spot of choice for both Bushara and Aggrey to encourage social change, both athletes also acknowledge that this form of discourse has both pros and cons.

“Recently, I’ve seen more pros than cons, but the cons are really heavy,” Bushara said. “For instance, social media can cause unsourced information to be widespread to people. People start to believe it, and then (the information) becomes a big hoax that is continuous.”

For these two athletes, circumventing the spread of misinformation is something they take great pride in. For this reason, they choose to continue to advocate for social justice through their social media accounts, regardless of having to maintain a certain online composure as student-athletes.

Aggrey said he’s never felt a sense of pressure when it comes to using social media to advance social justice with a large sports-fan audience.

“I embrace it because if I don’t talk about it and I don’t use my platform to talk about it, then who is?” Aggrey said. “Of course, I know some people may be offended, but it’s better to offend a small amount of people while impacting a huge amount of people to change their perspectives on things and have them ask questions and have their mentality be changed on certain things — certain issues and certain stances that they may not have known about previously or heard about that are not completely correct.”

While all student-athletes are still growing adults, learning how to utilize this era’s technology for the better is what many try to do without the backlash of an organization they represent. Prioritizing your life values over organization values is a battle student-athletes will hopefully not have to fight forever.

Reach Michael Giles at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Michaelrenee10.

This content was originally published here.

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