My initial goal was to write every single one of my blogs about black women in sports. As you can see, that was very hard. There is not a lot of news coverage or breaking news on black women in sports, which is a problem within itself. I never imagined that I’d be writing stories on sexual assault, special needs women in sports, or the history of women in sports. I have learned more about women in the sports world, how I view sports, and about the world in relation to women than I ever thought I would. I’ve found passion, fight, grace, glory, and so much struggle in this blog. Women are truly marvelous and have made their own way when it comes to the world of sports. I am more inspired and encouraged than ever to pursue what I want even in opposition. I won’t let the end of MCJ 203 keep me from continuing my search and my fight for equality in the world of sports. All in all, this experience has changed me a little. Thank you to everyone who read, liked, or shared my sports blog. Your commitment to me is refreshing and moving. I hope we all continue to fight together. Thank you.
-Imani in sports
I believe it’s important to give credit where credit is due. So today, I’m giving credit to Misty Copeland for using dance to advocate for African-American rights, healthy eating, and inclusion.
Misty Copeland was the first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. She grew up in an unstructured home, consumed with poverty, and listening to music that doesn’t necessarily coincide with classically ballet – such as Anita Baker and Aretha Franklin. She didn’t even start dancing until she was 13 years old.
Copeland recently released her book “Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You.” She hopes that her readers feel that they have “an opportunity to start fresh no matter what age they are.” In her life as a public speaker, author, and dancer, she advocates for better food in grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods, more diversity in big name dance companies, and going passed just having the conversation about different shapes and sizes being allowed to dance classically.
Along with her many other awards and accomplishments, Misty became the first classical dancer with a sports brand endorsement. She recently spoke against the CEO of said brand, Under Armor, who made comments endorsing Donald Trump. She wanted her fans to know her views and what she as a person stands for.
I for one am so proud of everything Misty Copeland has and will accomplish through her various platforms. She has paved the way for little black girls who want to be ballerinas and people everywhere who want to live healthier lives. Copland is spreading black girl magic all over the world.
I would be remised if I didn’t highlight this topic in my blog about women in sports, because it is important and it deserves to be talked about. In our society rape and sexual assault are topics many fail to adequately talk about with young girls, which makes it harder for them to deal with it. We pretend it doesn’t happen, so when it does, some women are too ashamed to talk about it. Rape and sexual assault undeniably happens to men and women alike in the sports world, but the first time I was ever introduced to the topic publicly was a few years ago.
Larry Nassar, 53, was accused publicly of having assaulted dozens of young women, most of the cases disguised as medical treatment. Nasser worked at Michigan State for about twenty years as a team physician. He also worked with USA Gymnastics during the same time frame. This man has clearly worked very closely with women, giving him several opportunities to commit crimes against them. At this point, up to 69 women have accused him of some form of sexual assault. Last month, Nassar was accused of deleting evidence of child pornography that would’ve been used to convict him of his crimes. He faces up to a lifetime in prison.
The funny things is I haven’t read or heard anything else about Nassar’s case since it first opened. Something as big as this should be constantly in the news reminding sexual assault victims that if they tell their stories, justice can be obtained. Rape culture is still alive and well today, and it’s time we dealt with it openly, publicly, and viscously. It is very easy for a man or women to disguise sexual assault as medical treatment when working closely with the female population in the sports world. Cases like this staying in the public eye could help save the mental and spiritual lives of lots of women just trying to prove themselves in sports.
Girls: if you know someone who is a victim of sexual assault, whether it’s a friend or yourself, don’t be afraid to tell someone. You deserve justice.
It seems to me that African-American women are good at being “first” when it comes to sports. Our next black, female legend is Sheryl Denise Swoopes. Swoopes was born March 25, 1971. She was born in Brownfield, Texas where she was raised by her mother Louise Swoopes. She was introduced to basketball by her three older brothers. At seven years old, she began competing in a local children’s league called Little Dribblers. Her high school basketball career took place at Brownfield High.
After college, Sheryl Swoopes became the first player to sign with the Women’s National Basketball Association, which made its debut in 1997. She is frequently referred to as the “female Michael Jordan” and is famous for both her offensive and defensive skills on the court.
Swooped was named the AP Female Athlete of the Year for basketball as well as the National Player of the Year by nine different organizations. Those organizations include USA Today and Sports Illustrated. She was an Olympic gold medalist in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Swoopes played for the WNBA’s Houston Comets for 11 years and was named the league’s MVP three times. Swoopes is the first women’s basketball player to have a Nike shoe named after her: the “Air Swoopes”. She is now a motivational speaker, coach, wife, and mom. Thank you Sheryl Swoopes for your contribution to the sports world! #BlackGirlMagic
Keeping the celebration of black history going, our next African-American, female legend in the sports world is Laila Amaria Ali.
Ali was born Dec. 30, 1977. She is the daughter of the late heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and Veronica Porch Ali. Ali is the eighth of her father’s nine children. During her career, she held titles from the likes of the World Boxing Council, International Women’s Boxing Federation, International Boxing Association female super middleweight titles, and many more. Laila retired from boxing with an undefeated record.
What many people don’t know is that she was successful before she won her many accolades and awards for boxing. Laila Ali was a nail tech by the age of 16. She owned her very own nail studio before she started boxing at the age of 18. Along with owning a successful business and being a world renowned boxer, Laila has also tried her hand in acting. She is known for her roles in American Gladiator and Daddy’s Girl.
This woman is versatile and has shown the world what black girl magic looks like in several different roles. Although she will always be known for her sports contributions, I will choose to remember her for being a well-rounded, talented, and beautiful black woman. #BlackGirlMagic
Did you know there is a foundation dedicated to black women in the sports world in the city of Philadelphia? Me either! It makes my heart happy to know that a foundation was created just for us to honor us and raise awareness of our existence in the world of sports.
This foundation was created in 1992. The Black Women in Sport Foundation, or BWSF, is a nonprofit organization that strives to increase the involvement of black women and girls in all aspects of sport, including athletics, coaching and administration. It’s dedicated to this because being involved in sports promotes character building. The founders believed participating in sports would build perseverance, self-discipline and teamwork.
The foundation partners with a host of donors such as GoGirlGo! Foundation, Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, Larry S. Newman Memorial Fund of The Philadelphia Foundation, and Middle States Tennis Association. BWSF offers scholarships, hosts essay writing competitions, and volunteer opportunities for high school aged black girls involved with sports programs.The foundation also has internship and employment opportunities for those who would like to work closely with them.
I’m thankful that someone had the heart and mind to start this foundation! Black girl magic in sports is being spread all over the country!
When we think of sports, we usually think of games such as basketball, football, soccer, tennis, or track. We don’t usually think of cheer, dancing, and definitely not flying as a sport. The Oxford dictionary defines sport as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. By definition, Bessie Coleman participated in a “sport” when she flew her planes.
Bessie Coleman was born on January 26, 1892 in Atlanta, Texas. She was one of 13 children born to her parents who were both sharecroppers. She was the first African American woman to obtain a pilot’s license. Because African Americans nor women were able to attend piloting school in America, she flew to France to become a licensed pilot. Although her goal of opening a flying school for African-Americans was never fulfilled, she paved the way for others to “defy gravity” and break down walls built to stop us from progressing. Bessie was known as “Queen Bess” to people who came to her shows and was known for her gravity-defying and very dangerous tricks.
On April 30, 1926, Bessie died in a flying accident during a rehearsal at age 34. Bessie’s life shows us that black women can accomplish anything in life and in the sports world that we set our minds to. Bessie is still showing us today how we can break barriers and restraints that are set against us. Thank you Bessie! #BlackGirlMagic