Sha’Carri Richardson’s Story is Another Example that Black Women’s Mental Health Doesn’t Matter

Our Minds, Bodies, and Spirits Need Equal Amounts of Care.

Sha”Carri Richardson has been stripped from running in the 100 meters for the Tokyo Summer Olympics. She received a 30-day suspension which means that she can run the team relay races at the games. It was a consideration given to her once she had apologized for smoking some weed during the Olympic trials.

Let’s put this situation into context. Before the incident had occurred, Richardson was being interviewed on national television. During the course of the interview, she was informed by the journalist that her biological mother(Richardson had been raised by her grandmother) had passed away. If you watch the video of the interview, Richardson does an excellent job of keeping her emotions in check. Although, you can see from her facial expressions that it was a struggle.

Once the interview ended, Sha”Carri in the midst of the Olympic trials used marijuana to calm her nerves. I don’t blame her. She was under enormous pressure to qualify for the Olympics and learned in the most tactless way that her mother had died. A few puffs on a joint shouldn't be a crime. Unfortunately, the Olympic Committee didn’t see it that way.

The marijuana contained THC, a substance that was placed on the banned substances list just this year. Despite the fact that Oregon allows the use of marijuana and it’s not a performance-enhancing drug, the Olympic committee decided to suspend Richardson from the competition. I find this situation unfair. Richardson was going through immense pressure. The Olympic committee should have been more understanding and supportive.

Didn’t we just have this issue with Naomi Osaka at the French Open? Osaka withdrew because she wanted to protect her mental state. Again, those in charge were not sympathetic and fined her. A Black woman’s mental health is important and should be respected. But in sports, as in most areas of life, that is not the case.

Black women carry a lot on their shoulders. We’re mothers, caregivers, employees, and business owners. We have to get the food on the table, the mortgage paid, and make sure the homework is done. Black women are viewed as “strong”, being able to handle it all. That stereotype is killing us.

Black women can’t do it all and we don’t want to. It’s too much. Add to the equation that we live in a racist and sexist country makes it even harder. Black women are being pulled in so many directions. We’re taking care of everyone else but ourselves. Black women need to be able to catch their breaths. Self-care is important.

So give Sha’Carri Richardson a break. Give Naomi Osaka a break. Give all Black women a break. We need it. We want it. We deserve it. If we break down, nothing will get done. And Black women know that society can’t handle all that we do. Period.

Shirley is a poet and writer. Ms. Luke enjoys reading, fashion and travel. She is working on a manuscript of her poems and an essay collection.