This has been quite the Black History Month so far…
All Black folks are trying to do is live our Black a** lives and not be bothered with white foolishness. This is much easier said than done in many cases and this story is just another example of why.
According to a report on NBCNews, a 12-year-old Black girl from Duluth, Minnesota was disqualified from her YMCA swim meet for wearing a swimsuit emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter” on it. Leidy Gellona was the only Black competitor at the meet and was told by an official that she was disqualified because she had a “political” statement on her uniform. We’re not exactly sure what an affirming statement of humanity has to do with politics but let this white tell it, BLM is about Democrats and Republicans.
The girl’s mother, Sarah Lyons, said that although she was angry about the way her daughter was being treated, she wasn’t going to force a decision on her.
“She said, ‘Mom, I’m not taking this suit off,’” Lyons said. “I don’t think either one of us ever thought that she was just going to change her suit. Knowing her, I knew she was going to stand true.”
Lyons added: “That was like a piece of armor for her. I am so proud of her.”
Subsequently, officials told Lyons and Gellona that it wasn’t about the message but the fact that it did not meet the “logo standards”. However, when the Vice President of the YMCA showed up, they quickly switched their pitch. “It was 10 minutes and we got the disqualification reversed”, said Duluth NAACP President Cassie Dudley.
Despite the reinstatement, Dudley said she was frustrated that parents and coaches came up to them expressing their sympathy for what Leidy was being put through. However, none of them spoke up on her behalf at the moment.
“There were officials. There were other coaches. There were parents. They came to the side and supported her and showed solidarity. But they didn’t advocate on her behalf,” Dudley said. “You can’t just say you’re about advocacy and equity. You actually have to act on it.”
That’s long been the problem with white allyship. All talk, no action.
The Duluth YMCA said in a statement that Leidy’s experience was “unfortunate” and that the race official who disqualified Leidy was a volunteer who was removed from the competition. They are now barred from future meets hosted by the YMCA in Duluth.
“An independent volunteer official inappropriately barred a student athlete from taking part in the meet, due to their ‘Black Lives Matter swimsuit,’ stating that it ‘went against USA Swimming’s policy of no political language,’” the statement read.
“In response to this ruling, Duluth YMCA staff swiftly disputed the claim directly with swimming officials and were in immediate contact with Duluth YMCA Leadership. The Duluth YMCA quickly overruled the decision, removed the official,” the statement said.
“The Duluth YMCA is saddened that the student, their family, and teammates had to endure this unacceptable behavior. … We know that Black Lives Matter and we will continue to work to educate ourselves, to stand against inequality, and to strive to be active allies in the ongoing fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Duluth Public Schools has also issued a statement.