Dear Sarah and the USOPC Board of Directors,
As an intersectional collective of Olympic athletes, representing a range of races, genders, sports, and religions, we feel compelled to communicate directly to you our disappointment in your recent statement.
In failing to use the word “Black” or acknowledge the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, you failed to acknowledge the humanity of every single Black athlete who represents Team USA.
Do Black lives not matter to you?
It seems to us that they do, as Team USA is happy to use the name, image, and likeness of Black athletes to celebrate the Olympic movement. Yet, when it counts the most, when the world is watching, your statement falls short. It is terrifying to us to know that if you’re unwilling to even make a statement – what actions as an organization are you also refusing to take?
Failing to use the word “Black” in your statement reads to us, as silence.
We are deeply disappointed in the institution whose mission is to “Empower Team USA athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence and well-being”, with an emphasis on “promoting athlete’s rights, safety and wellness”; “setting clear standards for organizational excellence”; and “honoring the legacy of Olympic and Paralympic athletes” would seemingly embrace the narrative that stating Black Lives Matter is an exclusionary demand.
Given the tremendous amount of media coverage to date, a simple google search would reveal that there is an urgent need to specifically emphasize the protection of Black bodies. Stating clear support for your Black athletes – and standing in solidarity with them and acknowledging that Black Lives Matter, does not insinuate that other lives do not matter. Our health and wellness is not your demise. In fact, our success on the Olympic stage, and your celebration and exploitation of it, proves in fact that our success leads to yours.
A “good” statement is not hard to come by. There are dozens of examples of that, easily represented starting with your community of corporate partners. Our request is that you retract your statement immediately and reissue one that serves to better represent the leadership position we expect from the USOPC. An ideal and affirming example, you’ll find from Ben & Jerry’s.
When we wave the flag after winning a medal, it’s in celebration of our sacrifices, our triumph, and the values we aspire to share with our country. Our hope is that your response to this will affirm that those values are shared.
Black Lives Matter.