US Olympian Gwen Berry stands out against national anthem snub
As the Tokyo Olympics loom, the world is seeing an early glimpse of the ongoing and complicated relationship between some American athletes and the country’s national anthem. Hammer thrower Gwen Berry turns away from the U.S. flag as “The Stars and Stripes” plays during the Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, on June 26, according to ESPN. The right wing has now seized on the moment to attack Berry, who says she feels she has been programmed.
According to ESPN, the national anthem is played every night at the track games in Eugene. Berry was on the podium for a bronze medal when “Banner” launched, and ESPN reported that the track star swung from the banner to the stands before donning a black T-shirt that read “Activist” athlete ‘ on her head.
Berry said she felt she was being deliberately put in an uncomfortable position. “I think it was an arrangement, they did it on purpose,” Berry said of the timing of the national anthem that night, according to ESPN. “I’m honestly pissed off.”
A spokeswoman for USA Track and Field told The Associated Press that the timing was not intentional: “The national anthem was originally scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today. We did not wait for the athletes to get on the podium to receive their awards. According to previously announced times The national anthem is played every day.” When Berry played on the podium on Saturday, the national anthem was five minutes later than planned, according to the Associated Press.
“They said they would play before we went out, and then they played while we were out,” Berry said, according to the Associated Press. “But I really don’t want to talk about the national anthem because that doesn’t really matter. The national anthem doesn’t represent me. Talk. Never.”
Eugene, OR – June 26: 3rd place Gwendolyn Berry (L) with DeAnna Price (C), 1st and 2nd place Brooke Andersen on the podium after the women’s hammer throw to watch the National Anthem June 2021 Day 9 finals of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials in Eugene, Oregon, on the 26th. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Berry also tweeted a photo of her on the podium with the caption: “Stop playing with me.”
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Despite the pushback, Berry didn’t give up the radical athlete label on her T-shirt. “My goals and mission are more important than sports,” she said, ESPN reported. “I’m here to represent those who … died of systemic racism.” That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today. ”
Berry has made a name for himself not only as an exceptional athlete but also as an activist. As ESPN reported in 2019, she made headlines after winning gold and raising a black power fist during the national anthem at that year’s Pan American Games, a type of Olympic preview event in the Western Hemisphere. After facing backlash, she remains committed to her cause.
“I made my statement,” she said at the time, according to ESPN. “As a country, I feel like we know the real issues, but we’re not willing to act on those issues or sacrifice something to balance the scales. I think Figure out my role in all of this and what I can do to make a difference.”
In an interview with KSDK News in early June, Berry talked about the backlash she received, including threats, the cancellation of her sponsorship deal, and official reprimands. Sarah Hirschland, CEO of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), later apologized to Berry for reprimanding her and another protesting athlete, NBC Sports reported. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) still has rules against protesting by athletes.
The Olympics are no strangers to political controversy. In Tokyo this year, the Olympics have sparked protests and appear to be generally unpopular in this year’s host city. International sporting events have a history of creating problems for their hosts, such as in Rio de Janeiro, Washington post An estimated 60,000 people were reportedly displaced in the run-up to the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Berry’s 2019 protests mimicked the famous Black Power tributes that saw U.S. track and field athletes John Carlos and Tommy Smith podium in that year’s Mexico City Olympics in 1968, and were in the national anthem since the former NFL. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick got down on one knee after years of debate about the role of sports.
want more Teen fashion? Take a look at this: The Racist History of America’s Patriotic Anthem
originally appeared on Teen Vogue
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