Who Is David Verberg?
A few weeks ago, I was tagged in the comments below one of David Verberg’s (@adiverb)
Instagram posts. After seeing his post, I decided to reach out to him in the hopes of getting an interview, which I was able to get. Verberg is a 26-year-old, professional Olympian Track athlete. After a lifetime of dealing with racism, Verberg decided that enough was enough.
1. The Incident
Verberg’s post shows him pumping his Black Power fist into the air for the 111th Millrose Games at the New Balance Track and Field Center in Upper Manhattan. While being introduced to the crowd before the men’s 400 meter dash, he decided to make a political statement. Verburg also says he knelt during the national anthem, which was played after his race. Swipe left, and you get to see the reason behind his protest. On the weekend of January 28th, David Verberg’s younger brother’s car was vandalized in Harrisonburg, Va. While his brother was seeing a movie with his friends, someone scratched the N-word across his windshield.
When I spoke to Verberg about the incident, he told me that his younger brother was shaken. For the rest of the night, he feared that the vandals were still watching him. Verberg also stated that this was not the first time something like this has happened to him. Verberg and his brother have both been subject to racism for their entire lives and this incident prompted his protest.
2. Verberg’s Protest
The following Monday after his brother’s car was vandalized with the vilest epithet (the N-word), Verberg staged his one-man protest. He slid his hand into his black glove, balled his hand into a fist, and extended his Black Power fist over his head. But why? What was the significance of staging his protest?
Verberg informed me that in all of the places he has lived, racism was a motif. He has been subject to discrimination at restaurants and has been the victim of similar hate crimes like the one his brother endured. For Verberg, this is nothing new and staging a protest only made sense.
But what is the significance of staging this protest? In observing Colin Kaepernick’s protest, we’ve seen how acts like these can lead to professional suicide. So, why would Verberg do this? It simply needed to be done.
Verberg remembers the protests of John Carlos and Tommie Smith, the two athletes who held up their Black power fists during the 1968 Olympics as a sign of protest for the mistreatment of Black people in America. He stated, “I remember [what] John Carlos and Tommie Smith [did]…and it shocked the world but it got people talking. I was like, ‘They already did it but, follow suit.’ I was just trying to let people know…we’re still dealing with racism…”
The significance of Verberg’s protest speaks to a more radical school of thought: learning from history. Despite popular belief, we still endure racism–some of us–on a daily basis. Have you heard the old saying that history repeats itself? It’s true, but only if we fail to learn from it.
Throughout history, we have endured extreme acts of racism. At present, we are still enduring racism. And according to the blueprint that history has lain for us, we may continue to endure racism in the future. But as architects of the future, we must know how to read those blueprints. Verberg knows how to read them; he looked to the past (the protest of Carlos and Smith) in order to build a better future. Perhaps learning to courageously protest racism, like David Verberg, will lead to its abolition.]]>