Former Badger student-athlete says now is the time to speak up

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — When Minneapolis native Suzanne Gilreath heard abut the death of George Floyd, her thoughts went to her family. She immediately called her older brother David.

“This happened ten minutes away from where I grew up at. My dad drives in that area all the time,” she explained, “This could happen to my dad, my cousin, my brother.”

So Suzanne decided to use her voice, explaining her experience in what it’s like to be a black student-athlete. Right away, she said there are stereotypes that comes with this title.

“Black athletes are looked at as you can run for as long as you can, you can do this for as long as you can, you’re athletic, you’re strong,” she said.

Because of that mindset, vulnerability for black student-athletes can be challenging.

“When I feel like my body is hurting and I wanted to sit down, I wasn’t given that,” she explained, “but if my white counterpart felt like they weren’t able to play to the best of their ability, they were able to sit down.”

So she is looking for change – visible change.

“Actions speak louder than words,” she said, “so I think that’s a big piece that universities can do right now – maybe restructure and figure out how they’re going to be more inclusive and diverse.”

Because ultimately, Suzanne is a Badger through and through. She wants to make sure that future black student-athletes who wear the “W” are supported in every way possible.

“I love Wisconsin, I love the motion W and I represent them, but i want to make sure I hit on a few things that people can listen to.”