The RISE UP campaign, launched on Wednesday with a video featuring many Opals players, asks the basketball community and all Australians to help eradicate racism, discrimination and injustice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as other people of colour.
RISE UP stands for Respect, Injustice, Standards, Equality, Unity, Peace.
The campaign comes after the Opals, currently ranked No. 2 in the world by FIBA, boycotted training last month until Basketball Australia committed to stamping out racism within the sport. Opals star Liz Cambage announced the boycott via Instagram, in light of the protests against racism in the U.S and Australia.
At the time, Cambage wrote the caption: “We as an Opals playing group stand in support of our Black and Indigenous players and will not be training until we see support and change from our sporting organisation @basketballaus!! We say enough is enough!! #blacklivesmatter.”
Basketball Australia CEO Jerril Rechter said the organisation is committed to using its platform to engage, listen, speak out and be a vehicle for change on racial equality.
“We are extremely proud of the Australian Opals in wanting to come together and lend their voice and influence to not only support Black Lives Matters but drive positive change through their RISE UP campaign,” she said.
The RISE UP initiative will be rolled out by the Opals and Basketball Australia over the coming months, beginning with a social and digital media campaign.
In Wednesday’s video, Opals stars spoke about their commitment to making change. Many said they were educating themselves on racism and would use their platform to speak out. The players also acknowledged that learning about racism is a privilege, and is much easier than living through it every day.
Opals captain Jenna O’Hea said: “Racism, discrimination and injustice experienced by black communities is not an American problem, it is a worldwide issue including here in Australia.”
“It is important that everyone learns and educates themselves on these matters because learning about racism is much easier than living and experiencing it on a daily basis.
“The Australian Opals are asking everyone to embrace our RISE UP team values of Respect, Injustice, Standards, Equality, Unity and Peace as we work together to eradicate racism, discrimination, and injustice both here at home and abroad.”
For Liz Cambage, who has spoken out about her experiences of racism in Australia, the campaign is a symbol of the support she is beginning to receive from those around her.
She said it means “a lot that other people are pushing this now.”
“It’s the people around me now who are supporting me and people of colour to help change the world we live in and I’m very proud and emotional when it comes to this,” she said.