Statement from Shar Higa, President of the Long Beach Century Club:
As president of the Century Club, I stand in solidarity with the Black members of our organization as well as my neighbors, especially our local Black athletes and their families, in calling for justice and an end to systemic racism. As president of an organization dedicated to the uplifting of our community through sports, I cannot remain silent in the face of immeasurable pain and justifiable anger.
A week ago, we watched as police officers murdered George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, while bystanders pleaded for his life. This was just the latest public example of violence against Black lives that too often sees perpetrators protected and shielded by the system.
The mission of the Long Beach Century Club is to support the youth and amateur athletes of Long Beach as they pursue their dreams. But we cannot say we support our city’s athletes and allow our support to be limited to cheering from the stands. We cannot say we love Long Beach sports and then limit the expression of that love to financial donations to purchase uniforms and equipment.
The truth of the matter is that we cannot enjoy the athletic achievements of our city’s athletes, the majority of whom are Black or other people of color, while turning our backs on their pain in the face of a system that is not designed to value and protect their lives. Fulfilling our mission includes a call to listen to those same athletes as they speak out in anger and frustration, to believe them and to work to make the future better. Their stories matter. Their lives matter.
We are proud to be citizens of an incredibly racially diverse city, and we are proud to financially support our city’s sports programs, which allow young people from many backgrounds to become friends and teammates, finding common ground as they work toward mutual goals. But when these young people leave the playing field, they re-enter a world of opportunity gaps, unequal access to resources, and economic disparity that run much deeper than what can be overcome with a team cheer or a shared victory.
We are grateful for our Long Beach community and heartened by the displays of unity that we’ve seen in recent days. We extend our sympathy to our neighbors who are suffering material losses as a result of the extended shutdown because of the current pandemic, followed by further losses
due to unrest in the streets. We are committed to helping our community rebuild. Like the rest of our city, we long for peace. But that peace must be a result of healing and justice, not because we have, once again, decided to look away and to choose the easy argument over the uncomfortable truths.
We stand with our Black community. We stand with Long Beach.
Shar Higa, Long Beach Century Club president 2019-2020
Endorsed by additional board members:
Keith Polmanteer – President-Elect
Mike Fillipow – 2nd Vice President
Lucy Johnson – Treasurer
Michele Kreinheder – Secretary
Brad Rudy – Membership Chair
Alexis McDonald – Director-at-Large
Tanya Adolph – Director-at-Large
Ben Goldberg – Immediate Past President
Bruce Bradley – Past President
Joe Carlson – Past President
Don Dyer – Past President
Rich Foster – Past President
John Fylpaa, Ed.D. – Past President
Dan Gooch – Past President
Mike Guardabascio – Past President
Keith Hansen – Past President
Bill Husak – Past President
Vito Lanuti – Past President
Bob Liddell – Past President