The Remarkably Unpopular Tale Of Black Progress

In search of Afro-optimism.

Steve QJ
ILLUMINATION-Curated

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Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

1998, Nagano, Japan. Surya Bonaly becomes the first (and still the only) figure skater to land a one-legged backflip at the Olympics.

The commentators hailed the feat as “truly amazing,” the crowd erupted with delight, yet the judges only awarded her tenth place.

A clip of Bonaly’s performance went viral on social media recently, and the verdict was unanimous:

“She would be a gold medal winner today. Judges were racist/discriminated her on some level,” claimed one viewer. “We all know why she was penalized, but they will use safety as a pretext. Sad, just sad,” lamented another. “Black Girl Magic. They’ll do ANYTHING to dim our light…,” warned a third.

And most damning of all:

She’s a black woman, what more do we need to hear?"

The thing is, Bonaly wasn’t penalised because she’s black. She was penalised because the move was illegal. It was made illegal in 1976, 22 years before Surya landed it, after a two-legged version, performed by a white man, was deemed too dangerous.

But after arriving at the Olympics nursing a ruptured Achilles tendon, and realising she was out of medal contention, Bonaly decided to perform the backflip anyway, fully

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Steve QJ
ILLUMINATION-Curated

Race. Politics. Culture. Sometimes other things. Almost always polite. Find more at https://steveqj.substack.com