In the summer of 1968 two African Americans sent out a powerful message to the world at the Mexico Olympics. The message invested in their colour, bare feet and raised black-gloved fists spoke of the poverty, iniquity and democratic deficit endured and faced by millions of Black Americans.
|Tommie Smith, centre, and John Carlos,|
on the right sending out a message
that shook the very heart of the
Earlier in the day Tommie Smith had won the 200 meters and John Carlos had finished third. Later in the day they climbed the podium to pick up gold and bronze medals respectively. When the Star Spangled Banner began, instead of fists beating hearts and heads thrown back to sing the anthem, both athletes dropped their heads as if in mourning while raising arms in a black-gloved salute.
To me this was a powerful message. A message that says the human spirit is indomitable; and we as human being can rise above and defeat even the most cruel of suppressors.
I sincerely hope that amongst the athletes about to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics there are some Smiths and Carlos's who will mount the podium, eschew the baubles of these capitalist games whilst ignoring the maudlin music that celebrates inequity and anachronism. Why shouldn't disabled athletes make political statements against the tyranny of flawed medical assessments; why not throw the medals back into the faces of pitiless profiteers who cheer them on while impoverishing the rest of us.