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I Have a (Olympic) Dream

3 min read

Women and people of color had a unique experience that ended yesterday in Tokyo, Japan. The controversial Summer Olympics closed with America at the top of the medal leader board despite some members of the team having barbs and sticks hurled at them from the right-wing.  Lots of conservatives and some liberals complained about the unavoidable political intersection of sport and politics. Yes, reprieves are nice from the virus, anti-Semitism, racism, and misogyny. Unfortunately, with the growing anti-Semitic fervor gripping America and Europe, and attacks on women’s rights being so prevalent, the constant reminders of being a minority in America are inescapable. Black people are being degraded and brutalized so routinely that it has its own block on the evening news along with the weather and sports.

The snickers and laughs at Megan Rapinoe and her soccer compatriots, from the right-wing, for their failure to secure a gold medal for America and themselves, were disgusting. You could almost hear the shotguns rack and the dogs howl at their owner’s Confederate flags and curses of, how dare that American hating, purple-haired, lesbian (I could use another word) protest social unrest and blatant racism in the good ole U-S of A. When the greatest gymnast this country has ever produced succumb to the humanity of pressure, she was labeled a coward and choker. How dare that ‘Dinger’ be human.

Three images stood out as I look back on the games of the Olympiad. The quartet of Dalilah Muhammad, Sydney McLaughlin, Allyson Felix, and Athing Mu formed a small circle hugging each other after their dominating victory in the women’s 4×400 relay; I thought to myself, this is the legacy of America on women of color. Muhammad is an American-born Muslim track phenom, McLaughlin is the record-holding daughter of interracial parents. Allyson Felix is now the most decorated on-track athlete in American history and Athing Mu is a first-generation American of South Sudanese parents and possibly the future of track in America. While a segment of America is trying hard to cloak its centuries of racial brutality with a misguided attempt to redirect racial animosity using the guise of Critical Race Theory; seeing Mu, Muhammad, Felix, and McLaughlin was a beautiful mosaic of black womanhood, while at the same time a view of America’s racist evolution.

The second image was the smeared tears of basketball gold medalist Chelsea Gray as her chest heaved and her breath shortened while the national anthem played. She had achieved one of the goals on her bucket list; being on the top platform of the Olympic medal stand alongside her much-maligned teammates wearing an Olympic gold medal. The smeared moisture on her face was a metaphor for the smeared legacy of blacks in America. In the words of pro basketball coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers, “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It’s really so sad,” said Rivers.

Thirdly, was the touching video of Megan Rapinoe leaning over a railing to hug and kiss her future wife, basketball legend Sue Bird. Rapinoe is everything America professes it wants to be and is hated for it by those who think it is up to the exclusive interpretation of old white men. Megan Rapinoe exhibits the highest ideals of sports and more importantly the highest ideas of humanity; inclusion, justice, and using her platform for good. As much as women, the BIPOC, and Jews would like to separate sports and politics; America and the world, somehow make sure it is but a dream.

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