Racism victim dives into success

Photo Illustration by JENNA GIBSON


Staff Rep orter

Sai’Tavian Austin stood on the pool podium, getting ready to start the race by diving into the water, when a swimmer next to him called out, “Once you go Black, you never go back!” 

After the Lubbock swim meet, Austin confronted the swimmer on his statement, but he didn’t have anything to say in response. “It didn’t make any sense, but I think they were trying to be funny,” Austin said.

Austin was born and raised in Amarillo. While attending Tascosa High School, he was one of the only Black swimmers. “I would experience some racism from the other kids because there weren’t too many Black swimmers at the time,” Austin explained. 

Austin was appreciative of his fellow teammates because they were always supportive of him and his swimming. They would encourage him by saying, “Don’t let your color affect your ability to swim.”

After graduating from high school, Austin came to Amarillo College. At the end of this fall semester, he will graduate with an associate’s degree in criminal justice. 

Austin admitted that it can be difficult being a young Black man. With the recent deaths that have sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, Austin said he gets nervous every now and then. 

“As a criminal justice major I know that not all cops are the same,” Austin said. “But sometimes I am cautious of things I do and how I carry myself, just to be extra careful.”

Lemisia Adams was also born and raised in Amarillo, and is majoring in surgical technology at AC. In 2007, Adams began working at a local business. “I came every day to my job,” Adams said. “I came early and stayed late.” 

After a few years of hard work, when a management position opened up, Adams eagerly applied. In response to her application, her supervisor told her, “Black females don’t fulfill this type of position, but you would be a great helper.”

The business hired a white person for the management position, instead of Adams. “They hadn’t worked there as long as I had and they didn’t always show up for work,” Adams said. “I was even the person who trained them.”

Experiencing racism in the workplace discouraged Adams. “Even to this day it still bothers me,” Adams said. Every job after this experience she would tell herself, because of her color, “I won’t be able to get into a management position even if I work hard for it.”

Now Adams proudly works for AC as the Community Youth Development (CYD) grant site supervisor. “At the time I didn’t know anything else,” Adams said. “But now I know that was not true.”

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