Black Women in the Olympics: They don’t wanna see us win

It is without a doubt that Black women athletes are taking over right now. Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Sha’Carri Richardson, Christine Mboma, Gwen Berry, Serena Williams, to name just a few. (I could keep going but you get my point) These talented Black women athletes have worked diligently to make room for themselves and their gifts in the big leagues, but the way society is set up, we’re not sure if that will really be able to happen.

Pictured above: Christine Mboma

With the Tokyo Olympics being just weeks away everyone is excited to see the anticipated game we’ve been waiting for, but the Olympics is truly revealing their true colors and pushing their agenda regarding Black women’s athleticism and successes this year.

As Malcolm X Once said, the most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman. And he is absolutely correct.

On Friday, International Swimming Federation, also known as FINA, decided to announce that they will not be allowing the SoulCap— swim cap designed for Black women with natural hair— from being used in the competition. They ruled that SoulCaps do not fit the natural form of the head. (Like what are they trying to say, the Black head form isn’t natural)

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yea… exactly! FINA caught major backlash on social media following this announcement. Their intent came off racially motivated. Although they would argue it’s not, the whole country can read in between the lines and what we’re interpreting isn’t necessarily pretty.

Namibian athletes Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi were recently ruled ineligible to compete in a race at the Tokyo Olympics due to naturally high levels of testosterone in their body. Their levels exceeded the limit by a World Athletics' policy on Athletes with Differences of Sex Development (DSD). World Athletics ruled in 2018 that to ensure fair competition, women with high natural testosterone levels must take medication to reduce them to compete in middle-distance races.

This is absolutely crazy to me being that this is something that lies within their biological make up…these women are being left out because of something they have no control over.

Gwen Berry, U.S hammer thrower, received lots of criticism and backlash after turning away from the US flag during the national anthem. As we all know, it is optional to acknowledge the pledge and Star Spangled Banner as they symbolize different meanings and emotions in various cultures. Highly opinionated white conservative leaders went to social media demanding Berry to be automatically disqualified for disrespecting the flag and that if she hates this country so much, she should “go home”.

Pictured above: Brianna McNeal

Brianna McNeal, 29-year-old hurdler, is being penalized with a five-year ban for missing a drug test just two days after having an abortion. McNeal said she was in bed recovering from the procedure and did not hear the antidoping official arrive at the front door of her home.

This five-year ban, if upheld, would prevent McNeal from competing at both the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the 2024 Summer Games in Paris. "The system is pretty messed up if you ask me but that’s another topic for another day," she wrote in an Instagram post.

Simone Biles, US gymnast, was recently scored lower for being too athletic. Biles successfully completed a move so difficult that no other woman had even attempted it— the Yurchenko double pike. She is the first woman in history to ever attempt this move and judges gave her a score of 6.6 despite the difficulty of this move. Insane right?

Biles was extremely frustrated about this. “I feel like now we just have to get what we get because there’s no point in putting up a fight because they’re not going to reward it,” she said to the New York Times.

It is believed that judges were prompted to give her a low score to prevent other gymnasts from attempting such dangerous of a move, while others believe that it stems from them believing that Simone Biles is too talented and that she will run away with the competition since she is attempting moves other gymnasts don’t.

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka are amongst a few Black athletes who will not be competing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics for their own reasons, but all of these issues with rules and regulations that coincidentally happen to be among Black women are making many wonder are Black women welcome at the 2021 Olympics?

Majority of the rules at the Olympic Games factor in the whiteness of it’s competitors, while leaving out the possibility of other competitors being of a different race/ethnicity. These rules lack racial inclusivity and advertently reassert the normalcy of white form. Black athletes work just as hard, typically 10 times harder than their counterparts to even receive the same opportunities offered to them with minimal hassle.

The 2021 Tokyo Olympics is blatantly showing us how they believe that sport is about power; not the “power” on the field but the power to decide who gets to play on the field and who doesn’t.

The Olympic committee intentionally has rules in place that “move the goalposts” because they knew that Black people—Black women athletes especially— were going to run the 2021 Olympics. Many have been calling out the discriminatory rules in the Olympics by talking about it on their social media platforms and making the injustices of this powerful system known so that we can ultimately demand the changes we need to see take place.

These rules are the perfect demonstration of how racism is built into systems and attempts to ruin the chances of Black people accomplishing the great things we are so worthy and deserving of achieving.

It will be hard to watch the Olympics this year knowing misogynoir—invisibly and hypervisibly— rules it’s governing institutions.

21 views0 comments