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Issue 17 Out Now

Black Women Athletes Face Scrutiny Amid Upcoming 2021 Olympics

Photo via Chris Carlson/ Associated Press

1. Despite the undeniable success of Black women athletes, the Olympics continue to find ways to tear them down. In recent weeks, Black women have faced unfair rulings preventing them from pursuing their dreams.

Sha’Carri Richardson, a 21-year-old track and field superstar, will no longer participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for marijuana. This news comes after Richardson recently qualified for the 2021 Olympics just weeks ago.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced Friday, July 2nd, that Richardson failed a drug test and would not be eligible to participate in the 2021 Olympics to USA Today. Richardson was punished with a one-month suspension starting on June 28th.

In an interview with Today, Richardson said, “I want to take responsibility for my actions,” she stated. “I know what I did, I know what I’m supposed to do … and I still made that decision.”

Richardson took to Twitter and said, “I am human.”

2. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) refused to allow the usage of Soul Cap, a cap designed for participants with thick hair. Soul Cap is a UK-based brand started by two men who noticed the limited amount of swim products for participants with thick and voluminous hair.

In a statement, FINA said, “The body said the caps did not fit “the natural form of the head” and to their “best knowledge the athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require … caps of such size and configuration.”

In an interview with The Guardian, the founding member of the Black Swimming Association, Danielle Obe, said the ruling underlined the inherent systemic and institutional inequalities around the sport. “We believe that it confirms a lack of diversity in (the sport),” she said. “Aquatic swimming must do better.”

After facing immense backlash and criticism over their decision to ban The Soul Caps, FINA announced it will reconsider its decision.

In an official statement, FINA said, “FINA acknowledges the comments and reactions concerning the use of “Soul Cap” swim caps in FINA competition.

FINA is committed to ensuring that all aquatics athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for a competition where this swimwear does not confer a competitive advantage. FINA is currently reviewing the situation with regards to “Soul Cap” and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation.

There is no restriction on “Soul Cap” swim caps for recreational and teaching purposes. FINA appreciates the efforts of “Soul Cap” and other suppliers to ensure everyone has the chance to enjoy the water. FINA will also speak with the manufacturer of the “Soul Cap” about utilizing their products through the FINA Development Centres.”

3. The International Olympic Committee will be enforcing a ban to prevent athletes from protesting or demonstrating at the 2021 Olympics.

The ban is known as Rule 50. Rule 50 states, “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” The rule strives to ensure that the focus at the Olympic Games remains on athletes’ performances, sport, unity, and universality, according to the IOC.”

US hammer thrower Gwen Berry faced criticism after turning away from the American flag during the Olympic trials in June.

Berry said she is in no way hates this country, however, she’s unsure whether she will follow the rules.

“It depends on how I’m feeling. It depends on what I want to do in that moment, and what I want to do for my people in that moment,” Berry told CNN.

“And I will do whatever comes upon me and whatever is in my heart,” she added.

These three occurrences are just a few reasons why we as a community need to continue the fight for equality in America. We as Black people will not be silenced, we deserve an equal opportunity as everyone else.

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