Track and Field star Gwen Berry: “Somebody has to talk about the things that are too uncomfortable to talk about. Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse.”
American athletes Gwen Berry and Race Imboden both used their medal-winning platform Pan American Games moments, in Peru, to protest against the prejudice that is being promoted in the United States by President Donald Trump.
Berry, an African American track and field hammer-thrower, recently raised her fist during the singing of America’s National Anthem–when she was being honored for winning a gold medal. Berry’s raised fist protest was reminiscent of the actions taken by African American track and field athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 1968 Summer Olympics, in Mexico City.
Smith had won a gold medal in the 200-meter race, and Carlos won a bronze medal in the same race. Smith and Carlos were protesting human rights abuses in America.
In an interview with USA Today Sports, Berry said “Somebody has to talk about the things that are too uncomfortable to talk about. Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse.” Berry added “It’s too important to not say something. Something has to be said. If nothing is said, nothing will be done, and nothing will be fixed, and nothing will be changed.”
Besides Ms. Berry, fencer Race Imboden also protested against Donald Trump during the Pan American Games. Imboden, who won a gold and bronze medal, took a knee during the awards ceremony– an act of protest made famous by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
In a tweet, Imboden said, “Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list” of America’s problems. I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”
The stances of Berry and Imboden is now being reviewed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC)–which frowns on athletes engaging in political protests. Tommie Smith, John Carlos (and Australian track and field athlete Peter Norman, who supported Smith and Carlos) all faced criticism and retribution, inside and outside the sports world, for their political stances during the 1968 Summer Olympics.
In a statement, the USOPC said: “Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature. In these cases, the athletes didn’t adhere to the commitment they made to the organizing committee and the USOPC. We respect their rights to express their viewpoints, but we are disappointed that they chose not to honor their commitment.”