At the request of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, I developed with Tiago Vinícius André dos Santos, professor of anti-discrimination law at the State University of Mato Grosso do Sul, the Anti-racist Sport: Todo Mundo Sai Ganhando Sport, for athletes from the Brazilian delegation of the Tokyo Olympic Games .
The country’s pioneering initiative received support from Unicef and will be translated into other languages and worked in delegations from other countries.
In the production of the course, which took months for me and my dear partner, also the pedagogical coordinator of the platform Feminismos Plurais, a virtual space for debate and anti-racist teaching, we made contact with black trajectories invisible in history.
So, we started the course with a request for blessing to the elders in the person of Melânia Luz, from São Paulo, the first Brazilian black woman in the delegation of an Olympics, in the London edition of 1948.
Melânia was a pioneer in many ways. She also stood out for her involvement with black struggles throughout her career and until her death, at the age of 88, in 2016. She was a woman devoted to Nanã, a wise orisha and the oldest.
It was also the opportunity to meet Irenice Rodrigues, from Fluminense, who was so exceptional in the 800 meters that, even if the sport was prohibited to women by the dictatorship, it competed internationally.
He denounced discrimination of gender, race and led strike movements. Brazil had and has black jaguars on the tracks, in the waters and on the courts.
At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, Nelson Prudêncio won silver in the triple jump and broke the world record. Prudêncio graduated in physical education from the Federal University of São Carlos, obtained a master’s degree from the University of São Paulo and a doctorate from the State University of Campinas.
Black and black athletes fought hard for the right to exist and empower their community, and the university was and is an important stage in this dispute.
I understand that it is necessary to expand access policies to these places, as there is no shortage of inspirations. Another example is that of Aida dos Santos, fourth in the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, even without financial support.
She was a teacher for many years at the Universidade Federal Fluminense, where she founded an institute in which children had sports classes and also free tutoring.
In the recent past, more and more athletes have been engaged in the anti-racist struggle. Diogo Silva, from taekwondo, the first Pan-American gold medalist in Rio de Janeiro, who maintains a fundamental blog on the subject; Janeth Arcain, historic basketball player; Daiane dos Santos, from gymnastics that we are so proud of; Damiris Dantas, a basketball player who has been shining on the courts; Formiga, soccer player with more games for the national team; Raissa Rocha, Paralympic javelin athlete, among many others.
Working with anti-racist knowledge and invitations to a transformative practice in a space of so much power in society must undoubtedly be used.
I congratulate COB for the initiative and the idealization of an avant-garde project. I am very happy to be able to be part of this, understanding the varied positive impacts on the awareness of athletes who have not yet had the opportunity to dedicate themselves more deeply to the topic, as well as empower those and those who have been fighting for plurality in the sport.
The fight against racism is constant, since the system is updated as a way of resisting changes. Against this structure, which is independent of our will, we have people engaged in the search for racial equality. It was the white social group that created racism, a system that privileges it. It is essential that white people engage and fight against it.
As important as black and black athletes having access to critical racial debates is the awareness of white and white athletes about them. They must study and decolonize their views and practices.
We also work on the course on anti-racist actions, practices that the COB, the confederations and others involved in sport can adopt to combat the racial structure.
The inclusion of black people in management and technical positions, support for black and black athletes to develop and remain in the sport and awareness raising activities such as this course are some possible measures. Fighting racism is everyone’s duty, and sport is a fundamental means of doing so.
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