The Sha’Carrie Richardson story shows anti-Back rules at their best

When I saw that Sha-Carrie Richardson was left off the Olympic team, even though her 30-day suspension for a positive marijuana test will end in time for her to run in the 4 by 100 relays, I thought of America’s reverence for rules. 


The initial suspension happened because Richardson broke international rules that ban marijuana. She admitted her wrongdoing, apologized for letting people down, and said she would take the punishment. She did everything you’re supposed to do when you’re wrong. But in America, that’s not enough when you’re Black. You must be made to suffer, and if you’re too famous, too fabulous, too talented or too successful, you must be cut down to size. 


That’s what USA Track and Field did when they left Richardson off the relay team. And even though they had two discretionary picks for the team, and could have given one to Richardson, they claimed they didn’t do so because of the rules.  
They put out a statement claiming sympathy and understanding, but then said, and I quote, “we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams by securing a place on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team.”

They gave Sha-Carrie’s spot to women who were much slower, and less flashy. And in doing so, they denied her the spotlight her talent should have earned.


But we have to understand that America’s rules aren’t meant to be applied equally. They can be bent when they need to be, adjusted by the powers that be. They’re not what they’re cracked up to be—especially when it comes to Black folks.  


That’s why we can’t fall into the traps they set. Instead we must use the rules to our advantage, and then we can change the game. 

Photo:  Olympic Trails

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