By: Zachary Draves
During a press conference during the U.S. gymnastics championships, Olympic gold medalist and icon Simone Biles broke down and spoke out against USA gymnastics for not protecting her and other gymnasts from the crimes of Dr. Larry Nassir.
— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) August 7, 2019
The former team doctor was convicted over a year ago of sexual abuse and received a 145-year sentence. It was the brave testimony of gymnast Aly Raisman and the courage of the judge in the case that put him away.
In the aftermath of his sentence, it was revealed that USA gymnastics were aware of Nassir’s abuse but took no action.
Simone’s powerful statement before the media this week and her frustration and vulnerability echoes many victims of sexual abuse.
Her historic performance culminating in her now-legendary triple-double will live on in the memory of every fan and sends a message to survivors of sexual violence of empowerment and victory.
Furthermore, Simone Biles represents something unique that is happening in the era of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter.
She is essentially giving license to black women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence to speak in their truth, to stand up for themselves and others, and signifying that their lives are worthy of protection.
Malcolm X once said that “the most disrespected person in America is the black woman.” Historically, the lives of black women and girls have been unappreciated in this country since the times of slavery.
From being sexualized and degraded on auction blocks to being discriminated, stereotyped, and mocked in the criminal justice system, education, mass media, and sports, black women and girls have had to bear the brunt of the vicious systems of white supremacy and patriarchy that can be defined as misogynoir, racialized sexist mistreatment of black women and girls.
That is why when the survivors of R. Kelly, Oklahoma police officer Daniel Holdsclaw, and other black women and girls come forward, they are not given the same credence, deference, and support if they were white women.
Simone Biles along with #Metoo founder Tarana Burke, the #Mute R. Kelly movement, and many others are challenging these narratives and systems through their words and actions.
We are living in a time where black women are finding their voices in unprecedented ways in politics, social activism, popular culture, and sports.
Serena Williams, Caster Semenya, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Simone Manuel, Alyson Felix, and WNBA players Aja Wilson, Layshia Clarendon, Maya Moore, Swim Cash, and Natasha Cloud are some of the names of prominent black female athletes who are at the forefront of this new movement of athlete activism.
Simone Biles is a major contributor to this movement that is not going anywhere.
Her courage will be remembered as much as her elegance, style, poise, and grace on the floor and the vaults.