CNN journalist sends harsh message to critics of Biles 5:13
. – The other day I shared a meme that caused a lot of emotions.
In it, there are photos of three superstar athletes – tennis player Naomi Osaka, gymnast Simone Biles, and sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson – along with a sign that reads, “They’re not going to stress us out – Black women everywhere.”
They are women of color (Osaka is of a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, while Biles and Richardson are African-American) and have made headlines recently for the decisions they made to take care of their mental health.
The three also have something in common that I understand very well: the struggle of women of color when it comes to practicing self-care.
As I wrote in the caption of the meme that I shared on Instagram, it is difficult to be a black woman.
“We are supposed to save relationships, families, elections, communities, democracy, and basically the world, all while exhibiting the ‘magic of black women,’ but do they get mad when we save ourselves? ? ” wrote. “Welcome to a new day.”
The heavy burden is compounded by the fact that, as black women, we are not used to caring as much for ourselves as we are expected to do for others.
Black women are literally expected to be superwomen, from running households to providing emotional support to whites who want to be allies but need our help to figure out how to do it.
There is an additional dimension to black athletes who have to compete against more than just their opponents.
Mental health and high competition: can they coexist? 4:10
A 2018 study titled “Beating Opponents, Battling Belittlement: How African-American Female Athletes Use Community to Navigate Negative Images,” from Morgan State University in Baltimore, examined how they must circumvent both racism and sexism to become champions.
For example, he noted that Serena Williams – arguably the best tennis player in the world, with more than 20 Grand Slam championships – has been compared to a “man” and a “gorilla.”
Radio host Don Imus called the players on the 2007 Rutgers women’s basketball team “boy-headed sluts” after they lost to the Tennessee team in the NCAA final.
Osaka, Biles and Richardson have been subjected to racism and sexism in the past, but more recently.
Both Osaka and Biles dropped out, they said, to take care of their mental health and Richardson was disqualified from the competition after testing positive for cannabis.
Richardson smoked marijuana legally in Oregon and explained that it happened after a journalist he did not know broke the news of his mother’s death.
All three have been criticized by some on social media as “those who gave up,” “arrogant,” “lazy,” and “irresponsible.” And those are just the words that can be posted here.
Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros in 2021 over a dispute in which he did not want to give interviews after games (he said that fueled his anxiety); Biles withdrew from competitions at this month’s Olympics to focus on his mental health. Richardson graciously accepted the suspension that prevented her from competing in the Olympics (he tweeted: “Sorry, I won’t be able to be your Olympic champion this year, but I promise I’ll be your world champion next year”).
I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year 🤞🏽⚡️.
– Sha’Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) July 4, 2021
They are all sending a clear message: they are taking care of themselves.
This trio of athletes is younger than me and I sincerely believe they belong to a generation that has decided to prioritize their mental health above all else (damn the haters).
Each of them has put the work ethic that has brought them to the top in their fields and they owe none of us their talents at the risk of themselves. They wouldn’t, even if they weren’t champions.
A friend contacted privately to express her anger that these women were not able to “push themselves” and “do the job” as we were raised (this friend and I are of the same generation) .
To that, I say that perhaps they have looked at the older generations and seen that that mentality can produce physical, emotional and mental ramifications that are simply not worth it. What good are fame, fortune, and medals if unhappiness is the price to pay to get to them?
So, if you want, call it abandonment, quitting, or even breaking the rules. I call it winning.