I thoroughly enjoy athletics. However, athletics, despite the appearance of a level playing field is anything but. Like so many areas of life, white privilege prevails. Paula Radcliffe is among a clutch of white women runners who incessantly complain about Caster Semenya. They say her naturally high levels of testosterone is an unfair advantage in racing. So, Radcliffe says the solution is to find a way that is fair to the majority. In short, they are going to deny Semenya the right to race: or insist that she takes drugs to dampen her natural ability. Unfortunately, it looks like their protests against Semenya are going to pay off. That’s white privilege, and the world is full of examples.
Semenya’s sex, not gender (difference explained here), is continually under examination. And that is humiliating. It’s true that she naturally produces more testosterone than the average woman. But so what. That’s her advantage. However, it has upset white folk, so much that they cry when they lose a race to her (video below).
So, the IAAF are working to disqualify Semenya from running; Or at least not in her natural state. IAAF president, Seb Coe‘s latest research suggests higher levels of testosterone increase performance. And what? Semenya does not artificially induce it. It is as much a naturally occurring, physical attribute as Usain Bolt’s genes or Michael Phelps unusually long limbs.
So, I ask myself why Semenya? Jarmila Kratochvílová a mere 35 minutes after winning her 400 metres heat went on to win the 800 metres with alarming ease. Her 1983 world record still stands. Kratochvílová also looks masculine, but there was no brouhaha. There were no tears from Kratochvílová’s sixth placed competitor Doina Melinte or protests of a foul. Unlike those from Lynsey Sharp, who finished sixth in her race against Semenya. Was it because Kratochvílová and all but one of her competitors were white too?
And that attitude of white privilege is all around. Take North Korea, led by Kim Jong-un. They want a halt to America’s hostility. But America, who has nuclear weapons, will not have talks while North Korea continues its nuclear weapon programme. In other words, unless it’s on American terms they will not discuss permanent peace. So, America expects North Korea to negotiate from a vulnerable position after agreeing to American terms. Why is it okay for the western countries, historically aggressors, to have nuclear weapons but not anybody else?
It’s white privilege, and the un-level playing field is also part of the domestic culture. American footballer Colin Kaepernick kneels for the national anthem. It is in protest at Police brutality against blacks. But, it has met with terrible abuse and calls of an unpatriotic traitor. He is struggling to find work since his 2016 peaceful civil rights protest. But the Trump family embroiled in a Russian election hacking scandal receive no such hue and cry.
So, at home or abroad the playing field is far from level. Had Obama been as mediocre as Trump he would never have been president. That is without considering Trump’s sexist and racist conduct. Outstanding black sportspeople like Bolt are explained away by slavery weeding out the bad genes. Lucky us! But, the same commentators fail to attribute the success of white athletes to the fact that plague weeded out almost half of Europe’s population. Will white governing bodies ever check their privilege?
More on how black women are treated in sport here.
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