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Caster Semenya Cleared

Caster Semenya has been cleared.  The South African female runner has been given approval by The International Association of Athletics Federations, the global governing body of track and field sports, to return to competition and ending a layoff that lasted almost a year as her gender identity went under the microscope because she won an 800-meter world championship race in good fashion.  There is little doubt Ms. Semenya is ecstatic about the decision and will be participating in whatever race is coming up next.

It appears that all the negativity and controversy associated with Ms. Semenya’s masculine appearance, that her voice was too deep, that she was too muscular, that her body produced too much male hormones, that her body didn’t produce enough female hormones, that she had too much facial hair, was just a bunch of baseless hate and rhetorical angst against this young woman who had the misfortune of being the best at what she does.

A lot of people who should have recognized that they had no dog in the IAAF versus Ms. Semenya conflict gave the IAAF accusers the benefit of doubt and stiff armed Ms. Semenya as if she was a pariah.  But what was truly troubling was the fact that so many people in the black community, people who should have recognized Ms. Semenya as part of the black community and therefore should have given the sister the support she needed to get through this tribulation were more than ready to believe that Ms. Semenya was some form of damaged goods based on nothing but conjecture and hearsay

Ms. Semenya’s ordeal was another manifestation of the fracture that has become endemic in the black community.  All too often if we see a black person standing front and center in the court of public opinion and being accused of committing some dastardly deed, without a shred of evidence to support such a claim, we refuse to give the black person the benefit of doubt.  Too many of us want to submit our conscious to the notion that a black people accused is a black person that is as good as guilty unless innocence can be proven far beyond any hint of a reasonable doubt.  Often times, even the unreasonable doubt is enough to hold a black person in suspicion fueled contempt that’s just as good as a guilty verdict.

It is with great relief that I celebrate the restoration (as if it can truly be restored) of Ms. Semenya’s name.  I had promised that I would support her through this ordeal to the end.  And if she was found to be some kind of single gender defying hybrid, I would support her through that as well.  Shortly after this whole circus was initiated, it was rumored that the IAAF ruled that Ms. Semenya was not qualified to run as a woman and some people were ready to celebrate the fact that they were right and forgetting that the life of a young black woman was hanging in jeopardy.  Was it really so easy to forget that we were talking about a woman and not some inanimate object or intangible principle?

Now that Ms. Semenya has been cleared, I can compound my support with applause for hanging in there and seeing this through.  It would’ve been easy to give up.  More than likely if I found myself in the same situation I would’ve gladly taken the low road and slunk out of sight in order to try and rebuild my world.  I would try to convince myself that I didn’t need to run in anybody’s race to prove my self worth, all the while I would be hurting because my only crime was doing my best and being successful at it. When Ms. Semenya was initially accused, I couldn’t help but try and put myself in her shoes.  How would I feel if I was the one being placed under such god awful scrutiny?  And it was from such a perspective I made the choice to offer my support to this young lady.  I think its called compassion.  Lord knows the black community could use a lot more of that stuff.

Now that Ms. Semenya has been cleared, how many people are willing to go back, admit that they were wrong, and apologize?  Better yet, how many people are willing to take the lessons from this ordeal to the next time a black person is accused of something sinister simply because they are the best at what they do?  What if the black community could actually take what happened here and apply it elsewhere.  If there is no evidence of anything wrong, why not give the accused black person the benefit of doubt?  I guess that would be too much like something right.  And if we’re to keep the black community down, the last thing it needs is the benefit of doubt.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Caster Semenya, Life, Thoughts


  1. I don’t see this as a race issue. Let’s face it, the sets “male” and “female” are, in fact, “fuzzy sets” and not the clear cut “100 percent” that we’d like to pretend that they are.

    This issue has come up before (think of the East German female swimmers, Russian female throwers, even a Polish sprinter in the 1930’s).

    I predict that this issue will surface again; human variation is a messy thing and what is “fair” is not always clear cut. 🙂

    Comment by blueollie | Thursday, July 8, 2010 | Reply

    • PS: I don’t see this as a “guilt” issue and probably most others don’t either. I don’t think that this young woman did anything wrong or immoral; this is really a “classification” sort of thing.

      Comment by blueollie | Thursday, July 8, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback blueollie,

      But no one accuses men of being so bad they might be women! I still say if Caster Semenya looked like Jan Brady this would’ve never been the issue it became. Whether or not it was an issue of race is a matter of debate. But I can guarantee that it will come up again. And the victim will be another woman of meager means. And although I did use the word “race”, I meant the kind associated with sporty competition and not the kind more associated with skin color or ethnicity.

      As far as people’s take on whether or not she may have been guilty or not, or whether it was a matter of classification or not, either way the lack of support was pretty telling.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, July 8, 2010 | Reply

      • “But no one accuses men of being so bad they might be women!”

        When it comes to sport, of course not. Here is why: competing in the male category is never easier than competing in a female only category; in particular, though the elite women are wicked fast compared with most of humanity, they are way slow compared to the elite men. so an effeminate looking male would gain no advantage by competing with other guys, whereas a “borderline” female (whatever that means) would have a much better chance at a medal if she competed against women only.

        We have a different but related issue in our local running community: a transgendered person competes in the female division and frequently wins by large margins. True, nothing major is at stake here (save a 2-3 dollar plastic trophy and the name in the “winner” section of the paper) but I can see valid dissent if an Olympic gold was on the line.

        Of course the person you talked about is running as she naturally is, but I can see people wanting women to compete against women and if a person has the genetics of both sexes? Sticky issue.

        I should say that I am glad that this has been resolved favorably for her.

        Comment by blueollie | Friday, July 9, 2010

  2. PS: I took the liberty of posting this link on my facebook page; I am “friends” with lots of endurance athletes. I wonder what they will say.

    Comment by blueollie | Friday, July 9, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] genetically speaking, the distinction isn’t clear. Brotherpeacemaker has an interesting discussion on an African 800 meter runner whose sex has some ambiguity. This is NOT the case of someone trying to cheat but rather a case where everyone is behaving […]

    Pingback by Fun posts 9 July 2010 « blueollie | Saturday, July 10, 2010 | Reply

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