We covered earlier this year how there is racism in the NFL for retired players trying to receive concussion settlements, but we are also seeing it occur for the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics—especially when it comes to the sport of swimming. 

The International Swimming Federation recently announced the rejection of the Soul Cap, which allows black swimmers to protect their natural Afro hair. However, the Federation is banning these caps for black swimmers because they do not "fit the natural form of the head."

The Federation added another ridiculous excuse by saying "the athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use caps of such size and configuration." 

Soul Cap responded saying, "We hoped to further our work for diversity in swimming by having our swim caps certified for competition, so swimmers at any level don't have to choose between the sport they love and their hair."

Racism and diversity have long been an issue in the sport of swimming, especially for black people. There are no caps that accommodate their hair like for white people when sold at stores. 

Olympic swimmer Simone Manuel is one of the people bringing this to light:
Last year she said, "I think that my journey in the sport of swimming as a Black woman has been one with many trials and tribulations," adding, "It's very obvious that it's rooted in the thinking that Black people can't swim, shouldn't swim or can't be successful in the sport of swimming," she continued. "I've gotten responses like that. I've gotten laughed at when I've told people I swim...Swimming is what I love to do, and I'm not going to let someone stand in my way."
Per Danielle Obe, the founding member of the Black Swimming Association, she says that this move by the Federation and the Olympics "confirms a lack of diversity" in aquatic swimming.
The original swimming cap, designed by Speedo 50, was created to prevent Caucasian hair from flowing into the face when swimming. Obe said the caps did not work for afro hair, which “grows up and defies gravity”.

She said: “We need the space and the volume which products like the Soul Caps allow for. Inclusivity is realising that no one head shape is ‘normal’.”

While other swim caps for afro hair are available they are difficult to find, which, Obe said, created a sense of exclusion for members of the black and minority ethnic community.

“If I walked into my local health club, gym or leisure centre, could I readily pick up one of these (swim caps for afro hair)? No,” said Obe. “Can I walk into a general retail store like Asda, Tesco or Sports Direct and pick one up? No.”

"If the (official swimming bodies) are talking about representation, they need to speak to the communities to find out what the barriers are that are preventing us from engaging. Hair is a significant issue for our community.”
Only 2 percent of regular swimmers are black, per a report by Swim England. Soul Cap founders Toks Ahmed and Michael Chapman are worried this move by the Federation and the Olympics could further hinder the diversity in swimming. 
“For younger swimmers, feeling included and seeing yourself in a sport at a young age is crucial. Fina’s recent dismissal could discourage many younger athletes from pursuing the sport as they progress through local, county and national competitive swimming,” they wrote. 
They said they feared swimmers would have to “choose between the sport they love and their hair." 


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