Lower Merion HS basketball players take stand against bigotry

Lower Merion HS basketball players take stand against bigotry
Courtesty of Josh Verlin/cityofbasketballlove.com

High school students on the Lower Merion School District’s boys basketball team have made a distinctive statement with their team’s new warmup T-shirts.

“I am a Muslim. I am a refugee. I am an immigrant. I am an American. I am an Ace,” read the new shirts, created by the players on the Lower Merion Aces, a boys basketball team.

The players came up with the idea for the shirts themselves, the school district said.

“This is all them,” said school district spokesman Douglas Young. “We support and respect our students’ right to express themselves.”

In a statement released by the students, they explain the intention behind the shirts, which come as President Trump continues a legal battle in court to enact a ban on travelers and refugees from seven mostly Muslim nations from entering the U.S.

“What’s beautiful about America is that everyone is different,” the statement from the players said, before noting that some players have chosen in recent weeks to sit during the national anthem. “That is OK. We are free to disagree and have different points of view.”

But the team said it decided to make a unified statement in support of immigrants, refugees and Muslims.

“As a team we believe in fighting for the rights of all — protecting, defending and giving voice to those who feel marginalized, who live in fear, and who face injustice. We recently met and decided that the best way to express our views on what concerns us about what’s happening in the world is to show a unified front and to wear a T-shirt with a message.”

After Lower Merion triumphed Tuesday night over theStrath Haven team, 82-60, winning the Central League championship game, players explained the shirts to sports blog CityofBasketballLove.com.

“We had to come together as a team to find a way to spread the message to everybody without them having to go through the coaches to know what’s going on with us,” said senior Najja Walker-X, who helped design the shirts.

The shirts are also being sold for $10 each, with all proceeds going to the ACLU.