When Will They Stop Attacking Black Sportswomen Bodies? by Cheryl Roberts

25 Apr



8cheryl roberts  in the rain forest in ghana

Cheryl Roberts (writer of the blog)

Is there no freedom away from misogyny, racism and sexist/thuggish male commentary and white male gaze, for black sportswomen. For how much longer must the bodies of black women in sport be attacked? Even when the black sportswoman is world and Olympic champion, when she’s world class fabulous,   fierce and achieving amazing feats on international sports stages, there is no reprieve from the attacks, especially from the white male supremacists.

 Yes, its not all men who attack black sportswomen and yes there are white men who applaud black sportswomen prowess. But the attacks on the black sportswoman, particularly her humanly developed body, her natural hair, her black skin are horrendous. They are consistent and have support from misogynists.

The misogyny is especially levelled and thrown at highly achieving black sportswomen like South Africa’s Caster Semenya and USA’s tennis champion Serena Williams and boxing champion Claressa Shields. There are many more black sportswomen who are attacked, whose bodies have racist misogynistic missiles and arrows shot at them.

 Who and what racial inheritance gives people, especially white women and men the right or authority to ridicule and define the black sportswoman? The amazing sports abilities and their subsequent achievements of the elite black sportswoman are not applauded by the misogynists, sexists and racists. But then again if you are all of these ‘ists’  (misogynist, sexist, racist), how can you see beyond your limited mind and thinking when you see people through blinkered views and a white male gaze emanating from a white white supremacist inheritance?

Achieving black sportswomen have to be consistently upping their game on the sports stage and punching down those who dare to attack their bodies. Caster Semenya, Serena Williams, Claressa Shields are always speaking out, slamming those who claim a black sportswoman’s body as their ownership.

 These black sportswomen are strong and fierce; they are also supported by communities of fierce women who use strength and power to take on the misogynists, racists and sexists, especially on social media. The black sportswoman is not quiet or saying something like ‘I will leave you in God’s hands’. They hit back with power and the community of voices supporting them roar loud, louder, loudest.

Look at how Serena Williams responded to tennis player Ilie Nastase when she told him ‘I am not afraid, unlike you. You see I am no coward’’,  said Serena.

Sports achievements for black women in sport, the world over, don’t come easily. The sport talent is there but the resources to assist and support their talent is rarely there. But the black sportswoman works hard at training, presses on with her sports ambitions. And then they explode on sports stages and arenas and sports fields. For some, this is too much to accept; after all, the media they consume and society they inhabit has told them that ‘white bodies’ are the norm and standard.

And here arrives the black sportswoman, at the top of her game and top of the world’s best. And then comes the attacks because after all they ain’t the white and fair skinned women that people are accustomed to accepting as winners and champions.

If its not about her body being ‘like a man’ and sometimes ‘like a monkey’, then its about her natural hair. The attacks don’t stop; its always someone having something to say.

But the black sportswoman doesn’t allow this to bring her down or suffocate them. They hit back with sports prowess. Caster Semenya is world and Olympic 800m champion, Serena Williams is the greatest tennis player ever, and Claressa Shields is Olympic boxing champion.

And the black sportswoman has power. The power of her blackness, laid down over the years by those black women who also had to fight back.

So we applaud and feel the power of our blackness when Serena Williams claps back for all black women (replying to misogynist Ilie Nastase) with Maya Angelou’s fierce words’: ‘Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? You may shoot me with your words…..you may try to kill me with your hatefulness, but still like the air, I rise.’

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