Gwen Berry finished in third place at the Olympic trials in her sport, the hammer throw. This little bit of news wouldn’t matter to most people, except for those who follow track and field sports.
For example, here’s what the hammer throw looks like. Berry was at one point the national record-holder in the sport.
But apparently at the awards ceremonies, when the Olympic trials athletes received medals, Gwen Berry – who grew up in Ferguson, Missouri at the time of the Ferguson protests – heard the Star Spangled Banner over the public address system, almost as if this was a dress rehearsal for a true Olympic medal ceremony.
Instead of standing at attention, hand over heart, she turned her back.
Okay. She made her point. That’s fine. It’s understandable.
And although she had no reason or obligation to explain her actions, she did express her feelings and the reason behind her protest in this television interview.
But then, suddenly, every conservative – many of whom are still seething over Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem – tore into Berry like she had used a flag to wipe her hammers down.
And then Fox News jumped on the bandwagon. Yep, time for Kayleigh McEnaney to put in her two cents and expect ten cents change.
Even our local failed elected representative had to chime in on this. Because of course she had to.
Okay. First off. Fuck you, all you haters. The whole idea of threatening to remove an Olympian from the Olympic team because of a flag protest is just a bunch of pearl-clutching. Most of you haters couldn’t pick out the hammer throw from a track and field competition to begin with.
And for that matter, it’s not like there haven’t been Olympic protests before.
More than 50 years ago, to be exact.
Let me introduce you to Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
And even through all the pontificating and proselytizing over how Carlos and Smith protested racial injustice in Mexico City that day … there were some voices from a few allies who felt that what happened o those two men was both wrong and unjustified.
Here’s the thing. Athletes of color have had to deal with this for eons. If you can catch a football, if you can throw a basketball through a hoop, then that’s all fans want. “Shut up and dribble,” as Laura Ingraham once said of LeBron James. But the thing is, these athletes are human as well. They deserve the right to live in a world where they won’t have to fear the systemic racism that permeates like sewage.
Athletes have voices. They have a right to be heard. They are not simply mindless automatons who perform for the world’s entertainment. They are human and they have souls as well.
And for all you chisel-brains who feel that Gwen Berry disrespected our nation by turning away at the first strains of the national anthem…
Ask instead WHY she felt the need to turn away. Ask why the Ferguson protests in her hometown were so important to American history.
And fuck off with the “shut up and dribble” knuckle-dragging mentality.
You’re not worth it.