For the first time in recent history, a number of Black athletes are speaking up about how they’ve been treated, are currently treated and how they will not contend with the misuse of their talent as they continue to be treated this way. The response is overwhelmingly racist. How?
It seems as though the marches in the streets over the last few years, the death of young men and women live streamed on newsreels and social media, the consistent and vile excuses by Blue Lives Matter enthusiasts for their reckless endangerment and murder of Black men and women seemed to have missed the ears of the Olympic officials.
The ongoing media attention on mental health of football players has been swept under the rug as these professional athletes are killing themselves in dramatically similar consequences at an alarming rate. When tennis phenomenons like Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka refuse to be talked to and bullied for their very real circumstances as Black women, or when Simone Biles chose her overall wellness required to compete at a level that no one has matched, they are advocating for the right to safety and consequential mental health protection. As if these are situations that are just moments in time — these are, in fact, the voices that can be heard, but they are still being treated as if they are whispers in the wind.
We agree that representation matters, so as more and more events in the Olympics are joined and dominated by women of color, needing to adjust to the realities of such representation seems natural. Why aren’t they ready? What is the pushback about?
If the answer is, “Well, the swim caps aren’t usually made like that, and it isn’t within regulations,” then what does it mean for a cap to fit Afro textured hair to be out of regulation? Wearing one could disqualify you. You could be fined.
Why are women’s beach volleyball uniforms so revealing? Gymnastics as well, for that matter? There’s a fine for not complying with the standard uniform. When the #MeToo movement is a household reality, and sex trafficking is a drill we make sure our middle school daughters are aware of, why is it hard to imagine equity in men and women’s choice to show or not show their bodies while competing?
To have this conversation and expect attention on the matter, we have to make a statement, we have to push back on the establishment, we have to cause a scene to disturb the “norm.” These statements are just to open a conversation for those who are questioning whether or not the “establishment” is inherently racist, or inherently sexist and just basically refusing to reconfigure to the current and modern time of self determination for the greater good.
The problem is, the people pushing back are seen as the underdog, and that is inherently false. We/They are not the underdog. We/They are historically excluded.
How loud do we have to scream before the institution makes a change willingly, before we march, before we refuse endorsements and take our fan support and dollars elsewhere?
Who really, what really, is causing a division? At what point do we, as a collective, stop funding the institution that willingly ignores the very people the institution stole their glory from? Without us — who are they?
Look, I’m just trying to watch the Olympics, man.
Ayisha Elliott’s podcast Black Girl From Eugene is raw and uncensored monologues and conversations about living while Black in the PNW. Listen locally at 11 am Sundays on FB Live; simulcast on KEPW 97.3 FM. Find it on all major podcasting platforms. You can support BGFE at Patreon.com/Blackgirlfromeugene_1.