☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 
☻  WELCOME TO THE LOCAL OPTIMIST GROUP   ☻   SHOP MADHAPPY  
 

Who Gets to Be an Olympian?    

Who Gets to Be an Olympian?

Art by FISK

By Asia Ewart

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them." That Maya Angelou adage feels all too relevant as we look to the Olympics. By her logic, recent controversies started by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and other sports federations leading up to the 2020 Summer Olympics have shown the organizations to be prejudiced and outdated. Their eyebrow-raising missteps (to say the absolute least) have seen them wield unequal punishment on Black athletes and determine who is considered “natural” enough to be part of the Games. It’s a harsh reminder that for Black athletes, the spirit of unity the Games were founded on has never really existed.

Back in June, less than two weeks after sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson flew into first place during the women's 100 meters final, her Olympic dreams were suddenly slashed because of the IOC’s drug usage laws, which have been highly criticized for decades over their unbalanced focus on Black athletes. At the same time, Soul Cap swim caps created specifically for Black natural hair were rejected by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) because they didn’t fit what the federation considered a “natural form of the head.” The streak continued when hurdles champion Brianna McNeal was banned from the Games until 2025 for what the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) described as intentional “tampering of doping control;” in reality, McNeal missed a drug test because she was recovering from an abortion and couldn’t remember the exact date of her surgery, giving the wrong date to the AIU as a result. Nevertheless, the committee ruled that she had altered her dates intentionally.

What the Olympics made clear with these decisions is that if Black athletes want to compete in the Games, they’d better get used to having their every action over-policed and their existence questioned. As the organization leans completely into othering, their actions pose an important question: who gets to be an Olympian?

The Olympics have long reminded Black people that to exist as such in predominantly white spaces is to be judged, criticized and set back, and they have no real power over how that unfolds. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos paid that price when their Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics led to their expulsion from the Games. Track and field star Jesse Owens wasn’t even invited to the White House to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt upon becoming a four-time gold medalist after the 1936 Games. 

One of the most prominent examples of this reality is Florence Griffith “Flo-Jo'' Joyner, who made her mark at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Famous to this day not only for her record-breaking speed but also for her unapologetically glamorous track outfits and acrylic nails, Flo-Jo was continuously accused of using performance enhancing drugs during the height of her career. International spectators and sports commentators simply couldn't believe that a Black woman could be that talented or muscular without some sort of assistance. Even her death in 1998 was suspected to be a drug overdose by racist medical officials and academics before her tests came back clear and it was determined to be an epileptic seizure. While the IOC came to Flo-Jo's defense after her death, it was too late to stop the late athlete's legacy from being tarnished by false drug allegations.

That reality is now one that Sha'Carri Richardson is being forced to live with, and one that white athletes simply don’t face to the same degree. Richardson, as a young, queer woman with a style that stands out amongst her peers, will forever be remembered as someone whose first shot at the Olympics was hindered by non-performance enhancing drug usage. Consider that tennis player Maria Sharapova, on the other hand, had her drug sentence reduced from two years to 15 months after she said she didn't realize that meldonium, the heart medication she used at the time, was banned by the AIU. Sharapova (who, like Richardson, made a human error) was forgiven. Richardson, who knew marijuana was banned but used it to cope with the death of her mother, was not afforded that same grace for her lapse in judgement. 

In 2021, marijuana is a mainstream drug; it’s legalized in 18 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. for medical and recreational use, and the market is currently valued at $17.5 billion. To count it as a deal breaker when it’s been proven to be non-performance enhancing is not only backwards, it’s tonedeaf, especially when Black people are almost four times more likely to get arrested for marijuana than white people.

Similarly McNeal, whose case was treated as if she purposefully “tricked” the AIU, may be forced into early retirement because of her five year ban. Not only a prime example of Black athletes being held to different standards than their white counterparts, the AIU essentially punishing a woman for having an abortion is riddled with misogyny. By not treating her abortion like the serious medical procedure that it is—one that’s physically taxing and requires recovery time—the IOC is proving that it has a long way to go when it comes to women’s rights.

Of course, the unequal treatment of Black athletes at the Olympics isn’t happening in a vacuum. Our collective history, cultural attitudes, societal expectations, and the worlds of education and medicine have long shown us that the world thinks of Black people as less than, even subhuman. The powers that be at the Games are now upholding that mindset via discriminatory, outdated rules that fly in the face of what the Games claim to be. The competition has always sold itself as being about unity and sportsmanship, but to unfairly punish one group of people for breaking archaic rules indicates there’s still a twisted hierarchy and that the Games are biased with a capital B.

In asking who gets to be an Olympian, we need to examine who the Games considers an ideal athlete: a record-breaking team player who follows the rules. Someone who, as the World Anti-Doping Agency refers to Olympians who abstain from substance abuse, maintains the “spirit of sport.” At one point, the ideal Olympian was simply a straight, white man, but who the IOC considers a trailblazing athlete has since evolved to include women and members of the LGBTQ community, serving as proof that it’s possible to update their rules and standards. Although Black people are welcome, it’s not often with the same open arms.

Given all these controversies steeped in old and prejudicial rules, it’s hard not to wonder what place the Olympics have in society today. If it’s to dehumanize certain athletes and gatekeep who gets to go down in history, then do we really want it?

The answer depends on what, if anything, they learn from this. The time for the Games’ reckoning should’ve been in June of 2020, when the world, spurred on by the murder of George Floyd, finally woke up to the racial injustice faced by the Black people around them. Ideally, the Olympics would’ve begun the work of ensuring Black athletes were treated as equivalent to their non-Black teammates back then and avoided these discriminatory missteps altogether. That didn’t happen but they have a huge opportunity now to make it right – to reflect on their legacies and start taking the necessary steps towards progress. They owe it to the Black athletes, whose popularity and fandom drive so many people to attend and watch the Games, to do so.

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.