The summer 2021 Olympics will be beginning soon in Tokyo. Much of the world is excited for these events to take place, but there is a lot of concern about the way Black athletes have been treated thus far in the process.
In the past few weeks there have been altered rules and standards that Black women have been held to that have negatively impacted their ability to participate in the event.
Alice Dearing is the first Black female Olympic swimmer on Great Britain’s team. She had a partnership with the swim cap company called Soul Caps that make swimming caps that protect natural Black hair and are used by many Black swimmers.
The international swimming federation decided to ban those specific swim caps claiming that they don’t follow “the natural form of the head” and that “athletes do not need caps of such size and configuration.”
The implication that these caps didn’t follow the natural form of the head is a racist statement on its own. The federation is implying the natural way for a swim cap to fit is the way it fits a white person or someone with straight, thin hair, unlike Black athletes’ hair.
In the days that the announcement has been made to ban the swim caps the federation has agreed to review the policy because of the outrage it has caused.
In other areas of the world, the qualifications of Nambian sprinters Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi have been hurt due to their country’s Olympic committee. The Namibia Olympic committee has banned these women from competing because they have a “natural high testosterone level.”
According to the committee these particular women have an advantage because of their testosterone levels. The committee created a rule that capped what a woman’s testosterone levels should be for competitions.
These are only two of several other African women who have been punished because they don’t meet the qualifications of what a woman’s testosterone levels should be in their sport.
As unfortunate as these situations are that have hurt successful, Black women athletes, they are only a few examples of what has occurred.
To those who care about these issues, I would encourage you to look into the history of the mistreatment of Black athletes in the Olympic games.
Destiny Blanchard is a junior management major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]