Dove Men+Care is continuing its Commit to C.A.R.E. Now initiative, its partnership with the National Basketball Association to honor and celebrate the humanity of Black men, with its campaign for March Madness, called “Off Court Champs.”
The campaign celebrates and showcases former NCAA student athletes turned chief executive officers, lawyers and artists, among other careers. According to a 2020 study by Dove Men+Care and Joy Collective called “Bias Against Black Men: A Study on Stereotypes, Perceptions and the Impact on Black Men and Boys,” white men were likely to describe a Black man as an athlete over any other profession when presented with an image of said man. The campaign is intended to reverse these limiting stereotypes and misrepresentations.
Dove Men+Care is also partnering with the NCAA to launch virtual workshops called Off Court Clinics where the Off Court Champs will provide current NCAA student-athletes with career guidance.
The brand tapped seven former NCAA athletes to be Champs, three of whom are former NBA players, including author and founder of Democracy Matters and Kerosene Lamp Foundation Adonal Foyle; Terry Dehere, who played for Seton Hall and competed in the NBA for six seasons and helped rebuild and support his community in South Orange, N.J., and Slam Dunk Contest winner Desmond Mason, who after he retired from the NBA in 2010 pursued his dream of becoming an artist and in 2016 won the U.N. Athlete for Peace award for his talent and philanthropic work.
Additional participants include Onaje X.O. Woodbine, who was voted one of the top 10 student-athletes in the Ivy League while at Yale, later pursued philosophy and religious studies, attained his Ph.D. at Boston University and authored the 2016 book “Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop and Street Basketball; Michael C. Thorpe, an artist who makes large-scale portraits using quilting techniques inspired by African American quilters of Gee Bend Alabama; Terrance Hayes, who received a master of fine arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997 and is a professor of English at New York University, and Justin Drummond, founder of cybersecurity and training company SparkC and CEO of Execz Suit Company.
“Being a part of this initiative is important for me because the image of Black men is important to me,” said Drummond, a former Division I student-athlete who advanced to the NCAA Championships while at Loyola University Maryland.
Drummond started playing basketball at five years old and said his career took off after hitting his growth spurt in 10th grade. During his collegiate career, he won a MAAC conference championship, had all-rookie honors, 6th Man of the Year award and a NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012, and he transferred to the University of Toledo, where we won a MAC regular season championship, made all-conference awards, and made an NIT appearance in 2014. He started SparkC in 2013, which inspired him to establish Execz Suit Company.
“The image of Black men is extremely important to me, and how we dress is the first evaluator,” Drummond said. “Providing this access from a community source, that is focused on helping the community by decreasing pricing and increasing quality. The typical track of a college D1 basketball player is to play three or four years, graduate and play overseas, or for the less than 1 percent that go to the NBA. I wanted to be that example to show our Black men that we can use basketball as an avenue to build our life off the court.”
Dove Men+Care invites all to sign a pledge on the Commit to C.A.R.E Now website to dissolve the harmful stereotypes and learn more about the Off Court Champs.