We’ve Had Enough! Now We’re Hitting Back And Hitting Out At The Ruthless Attacks On Black Sportswomen Bodies By Cheryl Roberts

20 Feb

 

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To be a champion and great black sportswoman is to have your black woman body incessantly interrogated by those who falsely assume a superiority gaze to constantly harass black women’s bodies. Ask athlete Caster Semenya, tennis player Serena Williams, gymnast Simone Biles
If its not about the clothes they choose to wear, or their muscular and physical strength or natural hormone levels, then its the misogynystic remarks and comments thrown at black sportswomen, especially the black women global sports champions like tennis player Serena Williams, gymnast Simone Biles and athlete Caster Semenya.
It’s all seemingly okay when black girls and women participate in sport at grassroots levels but the moment a black woman emerges a global sports champions, then the vicious attacks against her body are thrown around.
This is particularly rampant in sports that are accustomed to having white, North American and European sportswomen champions. But when the black woman arrives to claim titles and dominate sport like Serena and Venus Williams, Caster Semenya and Simone Biles, boxer Claressa Shields, then the misogynistic and insulting arrows are thrown.
It’s not only the racist, misogynistic fans doing the attacks, it’s also the mostly white male officialdom that shows up with intentions to dehumanise champion black sportswomen. It’s happened to Serena Williams, Caster Semenya and Simone Biles. Yet, such scrutiny of a sportswoman’s body doesn’t happen to white sportswomen.
Now comes the attack on women athletes with ‘higher testosterone’, a resolution propelled and accepted by a majority male and European exco committee governing international athletics that is the International Amateur Athletics Federation.
Outside of the IAAF, the public response to the IAAF’s ‘higher testosterone ruling’ in women athletes is overwhelmingly in favour of the naturally born women athletes competing in their natural body states. But there are those who are pushing for a ‘higher testosterone ruling’ to be implemented and those in this group are mostly European, white and male.
There’s now also the open accusations appearing, again from mostly white and European people in sport, about Africa’s champion women athletes being able to win world and Olympic titles because ‘they are doping’. Such accusations linking achieving and successful African women athletes to doping, is of course associated with racism, racial prejudice and the white superior belief that black and African women don’t have what it takes to be champion sportswomen.
For a long time, black and African sportswomen have had enough. Serena Williams hits out with more tennis victories and choosing her attire on her terms. She bows to no racist attack on her body. World champion Simone Biles retaliates in similar fashion. She doesn’t hear the racist noise directed at her. All she does is win, win, win and be best global woman gymnast.And now World and Olympic champion athlete Caster Semenya ain’t hiding in a corner waiting for men officials to decide on the state and status of her natural body. She is responding with a challenge in the highest court representing sport. This is because black woman athlete Caster Semenya, backed and supported by all who believe in her natural body, knows her black woman’s worth and she ain’t afraid.
Social media is powerful when support for black women is required. We are utilising social media to roar against the arrows and attacks aimed specifically at black women in sport. And we are roaring in unison, drowning out the misogynistic attacks.
Get this! The attacks against black and African elite sportswomen ain’t going to stop. They are likely to intensify as more black women achieve in sport.
Today’s generation of black sportswomen role models have lit up the stage for black girls to believe they, too can achieve. And many more black sports girls are maturing into champions sportswomen. For those who choose to define the achieving black and African sportswoman as being unnatural or a doper, they will continue with their misogyny and body attacks directed at black sportswomen. And such people are not only the fans but they are also represented in the commentators and media, officials, corporate sponsors.
It’s no easy journey on your way to being an elite sportswoman. And it’s a tough one when you are making your way through sport as a champion. When a black woman achieves in sport, we can’t and don’t want to stop the applause knowing that theirs was no easy journey to the top.
There’s no way we going to stop firing arrows at the misogynists in sport, at the conservative, heterosexual controlling officialdom, at the racial prejudice and the attacks on black women’s bodies. We are going to disrupt all attempts at controlling black women’s bodies in sport and roar for black sportswomen!

Photograph: Caster Semenya
Photograph By: Cheryl Roberts

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