[Editor’s note: Off the Block earlier this week contacted Carthage men’s volleyball coach JW Kieckhefer to provide an opportunity for his team to issue a statement regarding the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake and subsequent protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Carthage is a college located in Kenosha and its men’s volleyball team 14 times has ended the season ranked in the top 10 of the Division III national coaches poll. Below is the statement from Kieckhefer in its entirety.]
I have often been asked, “Are you doing okay?” What a complicated question to answer. So many feelings and thoughts race around my mind. My student-athletes are safe, the Carthage community is safe, and I am safe, but so many people in this city of 100,000 are not. We need to grapple with the emotions of the racial injustice that was on display this weekend, which are felt by so many every day, as well as the physical damage that was done to the city. This injustice is magnified when you realize that the areas that have been hit the hardest, are the areas that do not have the resources to rebuild quickly.
So no, I am not okay.
BLACK LIVES MATTER. Jacob Blake’s life matters. Remember his name and remember to say his name. Remember all of those countless names who deserve justice, those who we know of, as well as those who we do not. What happened to Jacob Blake on Sunday was a tragedy. He is a father, shot seven times in the back, in front of his kids. No one deserves that.
So I pray for our community, that we can somehow come together. I pray that the continuing protests will remain peaceful. I pray for Jacob Blake’s health.
John Lewis once said, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.” We will not fail the Black community any longer.
Carthage men’s volleyball has made this promise: we will listen, we will learn about the racial injustices and systemic bias within America, we will fight to create a more just and equal society, and we will find ways to help Kenosha build back stronger, especially in our underserved communities.
I want to thank each and every person that has reached out to myself, assistant coach Matt Reinsel, our student-athletes, or someone in the Kenosha community over the last five days. The support from across the United States has been uplifting, and we do not know where we would be without the amazing volleyball community behind us. I challenge us all to take action and to remember these words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
#BlackLivesMatter #JUSTICE #EQUALITY #KenoshaStrong