How are you?
I am frustrated and I am a small dot in the world, with a small organization but I have decided to make noise about an issue that I feel I can no longer be silent about.
It is important to note: I am not highlighting this to lament and just complain and apparently carry out a "gotcha" situation. A Caucasian friend that I love, pray with and respect explained this to me once. Sometimes when issues are highlighted by one group that might be impacted by a scenario/ rule/ law etc, it seems like a gotcha is happening when we highlight someone from the privileged group in the scenario carrying out a deed that they in some cases did not know was offensive/ wrong. Gotcha: Trying to make someone that might be privileged feel like they have finally been caught with their pants down and are now to blame for all racial sins committed since the beginning of time. I am not here to "get" anybody and prove that they don't really understand the weight of the MLK quotes they like to put up every January. I want change. I am writing to highlight that we need change. I am not here for gotcha moments. Gotcha moments don't help ANYONE in my village or community. I want things to change so that it's not such a fight passing through this earth. The world is dark and such a cold and cruel place because we CHOOSE to leave it that way. I WANT CHANGE and equal opportunity!!
Now that that has been made clear, here is issue one:
As an African living in The West, I can't tell you how many times I have had someone want to come and discuss female genital mutilation ( FGM ) and how hideous it is with me. They come to me as if they want to make sure I know it is awful and almost as if to ensure I am not on the side that believes in it, or supports it, since some women have been known to uphold the act.
So, why is it global organizations can spearhead altering women's bodies when it comes to global sporting games and there isn't massive uproar about it? Sports are supposed to unify mankind and be used as platforms that further human rights. How is this happening right now and how has it been happening?
I thought we were of the mindset that "such foul things" should not be allowed just like FGM?
Maybe, people everywhere haven't tagged
2. World Athletics
4. The FINA President
5. World Athletics President
to posts because they don't know about it.
I think we should.
Here is the researched information I am shouting about across social media.
If you do not know what I am talking about please look up Annet Negesa.
The Human Rights Watch video is included below and it's in English (6 minutes of your life will be required to watch this video in it's entirety).
Did you know that the World Athletics' testosterone rules only apply to events between 400 meters and one mile.
Read entire ESPN article from five days ago here: https://www.espn.com/olympics/story/_/id/31749541/namibia-female-runners-banned-olympic-400-meters-high-testosterone-levels
My questions are why is this happening to women and not men?
Michael Phelps had "super human abilities" that made him the swimmer he is.
Why do women have to change their bodies but not men?
Given that height could help with certain fields? Are we [planning to shorten certain people? Just asking.
Please read the following article by Monica Hesse for The Washington Post as she so eloquently breaks down the situation that has thrown Semenya and other women out of global competitions: www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/we-celebrated-michael-phelpss-genetic-differences-why-punish-caster-semenya-for-hers/2019/05/02/93d08c8c-6c2b-11e9-be3a-33217240a539_story.html
Also, why is it only particular women and not ALL women? AGAIN: World Athletics' testosterone rules only apply to events between 400 meters and one mile. WHY IS THIS? If you want to make sports fair for women, it should cover ALL fields women participate in if it's truly about evening the playing field.
Please read the article on ESPN from 2018 about Dutee Chand and the 100m and 200m sprints: www.espn.com/athletics/story/_/id/23336583/dutee-chand-found-life-run-fear-now
Why I brought The Queen up while lamenting on Facebook:
Dutee Chand's troubles: Commonwealth Games
Please read the following article: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/commonwealth-games/dutee-chand-in-danger-of-missing-commonwealth-games-for-second-straight-time/articleshow/63227089.cms
Now the rule moved to the 400 m to one mile category as mentioned by ESPN in the previous article. Clearly, OTHER WOMEN are made this way. Why are certain women being mistreated and chastised for their brilliant abilities? And others being deemed as "safe"?
Do we recall that right before Harry & Meghan's BIG interview with Oprah, there was a message from The Queen on unity across The Commonwealth. Here is a message from her that was featured on Reuters and I quote:
In a speech to mark Commonwealth Day, dedicated to the countries mainly from the former British empire that maintain links with Britain, the Queen welcomed the “deeper appreciation of the mutual support and spiritual sustenance we enjoy being connected to others” during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have all continued to appreciate the support, breadth of experiences and knowledge that working together brings, and I hope we shall maintain this renewed sense of closeness and community,” she said in a televised message.
If indeed THIS is the case, why do The Commonwealth Games adhere to rules set by World Athletics that exclude and discriminate? There are rules on how a body, in this case, The Commonwealth Games Federation, can object a global governing organization's rules. The Queen can't just sit somewhere and sign something. However, given that we were her get out of jail free card, and we were... there needs to be even more push from various angles and strategizing from the CGF president and member states, when it comes to what is happening to us. Can't we do more? If not, why?
When she speaks of support, this would be one of the easiest ways to ensure everyone under the Commonwealth banner was being supported. Sports is a golden ticket out of poverty not just for the individual but for the communities a lot of athletes go on to uplift after. Where is the support showing that The Commonwealth Games and member nations do not adhere to discriminatory laws set by organizations that bully and coordinate the mutilation of bodies? Women's bodies?
Again, I am NOT interested in a gotcha moment.
I want change.
I want the world to continue to get better.
So, is there not more we can do?
If I am seeing something wrong, educate me and let me know whatr next steps we need to follow to ensure these rules are dissolved.
You can read more of The Queen's message here from earlier this year: www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-royals-commonwealth-queen/queen-calls-for-commonwealth-unity-before-harry-and-meghan-interview-idUSKBN2AZ0J6
And another article about how the CGF (Commonwealth Games Federation) president wrote to IAAF in 2019 because he did at least, write a letter: https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1079022/exclusive-cgf-write-to-iaaf-over-controversial-new-regulations-affecting-double-commonwealth-games-champion-semenya
I will continue to share.
I am frustrated and I am tired of goal posts shifting.
I am also tired because everything IAAF is sharing sounds like everything I learnt about in school that justified colonialism and the cruelty it inflicted on many indigenous people/ natives, like us, across the globe. Meaning of indigenous as offered by Oxford dictionary: originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native. It sounds a lot like what I later learnt was used as justification for slavery. It sounds like what I read recently when I looked up Canada's residential schools because I wanted to know why babies had been killed, sexually violated and thrown in unmarked graves.
This whole situation, and everything I have learnt about it reminds me of my early years in America. When we first got here, my sister introduced me to a speech a woman had given long, long ago. The woman was Sojourner Truth and the speech was titled: Ain't I A Woman. If you read the entirety of Monica Hesse's article in The Washington Post, you realize we are still living a portion of Sojourner Truth's reality and it is so troubling to the soul that it makes you whisper the kind of prayer The Universe that allowed us hears as a wail for immediate divine intervention that unseats all that is because we have decided to create rules and regulations that ensure we live in a dark world that will always work for some and that will never truly work for others.
The world doesn't have to be such a dark place. We've made it that way.
At some point, The Universe that allowed us, will have to intervene. Don't you think?
We are actively choosing to house darkness and make it as if that's just how things have to be. Those are the rules.
Again, this wasn't a gotcha piece and I am not saying that the nations we come from are perfect when it comes to their treatment of us either. I am not saying our leaders are spotless and our societies are spotless. I am not saying ANY of those things. I know more about struggle, because of our corrupt leaders, than I do victory.
I just want global governing bodies with missions and visions to at least try and abide by those missions and visions even if they operate from mentally colonized/ colonial angles. Is there no one that can unseat the governing body is the governing body and it's leaders have forgotten what they should stand for? Or if the governing bodies and leaders are still on colonial factory settings?
How are you spreading the "magic of aquatics" (paraphrased but it's what FINA is apparently supposed to be doing) when you can't even speak with those who the merchandise was designed for and learn why they need that particular item ( this is in regards to FINA and the swim caps ). And to everyone on Twitter saying we won't win with "all that hair", allow us the swim caps then let's get in the water and find out. I mean, they did say Bolt was too tall for his field. Guess what happened there? And this is NOT a made up thing. Again, when you meet our exhaustion, as I mentioned in the video on Facebook, this is where it stems from. Here is an article that discusses a little of the stereotypical sprinter: https://www.eurosport.com/athletics/world-championships/2017/usain-bolt-the-secrets-of-the-man-who-changed-sport-forever_sto6268467/story.shtml
In the article, it highlights how sprinters, are not supposed to be above six ft. So again, provide us with what we need and leave the rest to us. However, don't make it that we have to struggle and can't be accommodated. How is the magic of aquatics being spread across the globe, when you don't know what a portion of the world needs in regards to participating in aquatics?
So, all in all.
Let's understand that inclusion is going to be a collection of active efforts and not something cute to paste on a website: FINA: Get some friends in all those parts of the world, and from all these communities, you wish to impact so you can understand what we need to participate. Once you do that, don't stand in the way of what we need to participate. If we don't win, fine. However, at least avail what we need.
Lip service is NOT GOING TO GET THE JOB DONE and it's going to involve us taking BOLD STEPS that overturn unfair rules: CGF President, the letter was sent. What's next? What are next steps? Who else needs to come on board? What can regular citizens do? Is there anyway we can help? Are there any other global bodies that can come on board to help with the fight? Do we need to stage social media riots (yes, that's very much a thing because I believe in nonviolence but do understand, I am vested in change and a better tomorrow)? What are OUR next steps? I don't want to hear that we just have to accept IAAF/ World Athletics rules. Again, WHAT IS NEXT?
And finally I leave you with one of those songs that cheated me, as an African child, that we were trying to amount to something as human beings. Clearly when it comes to those in power, like the presidents of organizations and governing bodies, we just want what we want and not what actually moves mankind forward or anything on our mission statements.
I am a HEAVY person to know. I might look skinny, but my consciousness is heavy and I don't want to leave you all hopeless. I value ALL of you too much. So remain hopeful and enjoy the moment brought to you by African American/ Black American legends Quincy Jones and Tevin Campbell.
I also leave you with the #IStandWithCasterSemenya video brought to you by LUX.
All of this will hopefully shine a light on World Athletics/ FINA and amount to some type of continued change given all the issues they are neck deep in this year (I am not the only one lamenting and these are NOT the only hot button issues). I need you to remain hopeful and not just heavy.
And you... you beautiful person reading this, next time you see a problem/ absence somewhere in your community, don't silently allow it. Don't just walk away. Don't say it's too big for me. If I am still on this earth, reach out, and let's figure it out together. If, I am not, may you be brave enough to tackle it and may help come your way from the heavens. We are the heroes we have been waiting for.
Please forgive all my typos and grammatical errors. In case you have not noticed, we come back and clean our "spilled" ink. That will be done with this piece as well. My proof readers are asleep and I am frustrated and aware of my humanity, so this is being posted and will be cleaned up after.
All my heart,
Emily Awour Wasonga and The Empowerment Initiative (LHoCreations)