When Gwen Berry stood on the podium to be acknowledged for her 3rd-area finish in the hammer throw at the U.S. keep track of and discipline Olympic Trials on June 26, she said she was stunned to hear The Star-Spangled Banner played.
In response to the countrywide anthem, Berry turned absent from the American flag and positioned her t-shirt, which go through “Activist Athlete”, over her head. She later on reported she felt “established up,” simply because the athletes had beforehand been instructed that the anthem would be performed possibly prior to or immediately after their medal ceremony.
The tranquil protest drew backlash from conservatives like Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R- Texas), who said on Fox Information that Berry should really be taken out from the U.S. Olympic Crew, even although the USOPC decided in December that athletes who peacefully protest or show at the Tokyo Olympics will not be punished.
“I by no means explained that I didn’t want to go to the Olympic Online games,” Berry reported in an job interview on the Black Information Channel. “I by no means stated that I hated the nation. All I said was I respect my people today adequate to not stand or acknowledge a thing that disrespects them. I appreciate my people position blank, period.”
Berry reiterated that she felt like the anthem taking part in was a established up and described that her protest was versus the historical racism that the music signifies.
“If you know your historical past, you’d know the entire music of the nationwide anthem,” she said. “The 3rd verse speaks about slaves and our blood staying slang and pilchered all over the flooring. It really is disrespectful and it does not talk for Black Americans.”
Berry is an outspoken advocate for athlete activism, and this was not the 1st time the thrower engaged in tranquil protest during the playing of the nationwide anthem. In 2019, she was put on probation for a yr by the USOPC soon after she elevated her fist on the podium at the Pan American Video games in Lima, Peru.
Other Black monitor and field athletes have provided encouragement to Berry on social media in response to the criticism she has obtained, like fellow 2020 Olympians Will Claye and Teahna Daniels. Previous entire world file holder Michael Johnson also showed assistance for Berry on Twitter.
“Regardless if you concur with [Berry] or not, you can’t deny her braveness standing up for her beliefs figuring out the backlash,” Johnson wrote. “Usa identities as an example of liberty, which involves the freedom to stand, kneel, or peacefully display when the anthem plays.”
Berry has previously said that she plans to proceed speaking out for racial justice for the duration of the Tokyo Olympics, irrespective of the Intercontinental Olympic Committee’s statement that it will reprimand athletes who have interaction in protests all through the Video games.
“Sports is amusement, but my intent and my voice and my mission is greater than the activity,” Berry stated.
Contributing: Tom Schad, United states of america Today