It contains photos of three superstar athletes – tennis player Naomi Osaka, gymnast Simone Biles and track sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson – as well as a sign that reads: “Y’all Not Gone Stress Us Out – Black Women everywhere. “
They are women of color (Osaka has a Japanese mother and Haitian father while Biles and Richardson are African American) and have recently made headlines because of the decisions they have made to support their mental health.
All three also have something in common that I understand very well – the struggle that women of color face in taking care of themselves.
As I wrote in the caption for the meme I shared on Instagram, it’s hard being a black woman.
The heavy load is compounded by the fact that as black women we are not socialized to care for ourselves as much as we are supposed to give to others.
Black women are literally expected to be great women, be heads of households, or serve as emotional support for whites who want to be allies, but need our help figuring out how to do it. to arrive.
There is an extra layer for black female athletes who have to compete with more than their opponents.
A 2018 study titled “Beating Opponents, Battling Beittlement: How African-American Female Athletes Use Community to Navigate Negative Images” from Morgan State University in Baltimore examined how they must navigate both racism and sexism to become champions. .
For example, he noted that Serena Williams – arguably the world’s greatest tennis player with over 20 Grand Slam victories – has been compared to a “man” and a “gorilla”.
Radio host Don Imus called the players of the 2007 Rutgers women’s basketball team “good butt” after their loss to Team Tennessee in the NCAA Finals.
Osaka, Biles and Richardson have been the target of racism and sexism before, but more recently.
Osaka and Biles both dropped out of competitions, they said, to protect their sanity and Richardson was disqualified from competition after testing positive for cannabis.
Richardson smoked marijuana legally in Oregon and explained that it happened after a reporter she did not know broke news of her mother’s death to her.
The three have been criticized as “giving up”, “arrogant”, “lazy” and “irresponsible” by some on social media. And these are just the words that should be printed here.
All send a clear message: they take care of themselves.
This trio of athletes are younger than me and I truly believe they are part of a generation that has decided to prioritize their sanity over everything else – enemies be damned.
Each of them has already established the work ethic that has taken them to the top of their field and they do not owe any of us their talents at the risk of themselves. They wouldn’t, even if they weren’t champions.
A friend privately reached out to express his anger that these women did not see fit to ‘get through’ and ‘get the job done’ the way we were brought up (this friend and I are from the same generation) .
To this I say they may have looked at the older generations and seen that such a mindset can have physical, emotional and mental ramifications that just aren’t worth it. What good is fame, fortune and medals if misfortune is the price to pay to get there?
So call it quitting, quitting, or even breaking the rules if you want to. What I call it is winning.