Sep 9th, 2020 |
Nicky Nieves (USA): Sitting Volleyball & Black Lives Matter
Nicky is a middle blocker on the USA's Sitting Volleyball team, and a Rio Paralympic gold medalist. She is an Afro Latina and an outspoken advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, spearheading conversations about race on her team and via social media.
This episode explores Nicky's experience playing volleyball without a hand, but focuses on her conscious decision to advocate for racial justice, providing listeners with suggestions for how they can help.
Experts interviewed include former teammate Kari (Miller) Ortiz, Amherst College Professor, Dr. Solsiree del Moral, and Black Voters Matter, Co-Founder, LaTosha Brown.
Audio clips from:
In this episode of Flame Bearers, guest Nicky Nieves shares her story of becoming a Paralympic athlete. Nicky was born without a hand but didn’t let that stop her from reaching her goal of playing volleyball. In 2004, women’s Paralympic sitting volleyball was created and Nicky joined this team of women who, rather than hiding their disabilities, found ways to use their unique abilities to compete. She now serves at NubAbility Athletics where she is able to help give limb-different children confidence and inspiration in playing sports. She also founded Limitless People, a non-profit organization aimed at teaching volleyball to all kids.
Next, Nicky moves on to talk about her cultural background and shares her heritage of both Puerto Rican and African American culture. After struggling to find her identity, she educated herself on her culture and heritage and shares how this helped her find confidence and pride in who she was. One of Nicky’s old teammates, Kari Miler-Ortiz, also shares about her and Nicky’s bond as being the only two black women on their team. Additionally, Nicky shares about the struggles herself and her teammate faced during both the cancelation of the 2020 Paralympics along with the racial tension. While it was a hard time, this helped encourage Nicky to use her voice to make a difference, to have open and real conversations with others about the topic, and to show the same grace and love to others that God has shown to her.
The episode concludes with another guest, Latasha Brown, who is the co-founder of Black Voters Matter and Southern Black Women’s Consortium. She shares her own story of growing up as a southern black woman and her journey of choosing to be who she was and stand up for what she believed. She has since used her voice to support the black community in many different ways and encourages us to do the same. We can do this by self-reflecting and identifying the oppression in us. This is the first step in freeing ourselves from it. Secondly, she encourages a stand against racism in our actions as well through having a political home where racism can be fought. Lastly, she encourages listeners to broaden their understanding of the subject matter and take every opportunity to use our voice for good.
Learn more about Nicky Nieves, view her Team USA profile, and follow her on Facebook.
Learn more about the Flame Bearers podcast.