I am old enough to remember Florence “FloJo” Griffith Joyner. I remember how beautiful and how FAST she was. I remember being so sad when she died (in her sleep, not from steroids or any other illicit drug!). When I see Sha’Carri? I see that same beauty and talent. I am solidly #TeamShaCarri.Full stop.
With that said, my heart is breaking for what is happening to her at present–and how the Black community seems to be split as far as just how (or if!) to support her. I am fully persuaded that at this point, respectability politics is internalized racism! Let me elaborate further.
Sha’Carri Richardson is a talented athlete. Just as FloJo was, and Serena Williams is. With that talent, she has been denigrated for being “too masculine”. I am still trying to figure out what is ‘too masculine’ when it comes to female athletes! What does that really mean? What does it mean to have your femininity stripped from you because happen to be athletically gifted?
But that is another conversation.
What I want to focus on is this idea of being the right type of Black girl. This is the caveat when you begin to become the type of woman that you have decided to be! In this life, we have to under the world we navigate loves to do three things with Black women: erase, minimize or destroy. That’s it!
If you are the type of Black woman that is problematic, then the world around you will see and declare you as problematic! It starts with something as simple as our names! Then from there, we are taught what it means to be respectable–hair, speaking voice, how she dressed, interests, physical representation, etc. Sha’Carri Richardson is problematic for the same reason most Black women are seen as problematic! She is not able to be controlled or defined by other people!
This nation sees Black women as the naughty children whose parents keep leaving alone! We are seen the perpetual problem children of this nation who are constantly in need of raising.
We aren’t! We are in need of re-raising by a nation whose fame and infamy has come from the stealing and murdering of our sons. No, she is not the respectable Black girl. Sha’Carri is a Black woman who is confident in herself, knows when she has messed up, and should not be discounted because she made a mistake! The nation voted for an internet troll, so we can get over the fact Sha’Carri smoked weed to handle a tragedy–and she still dusted her competition!
Tell me why you really mad.
[image from Time.com]