Black America defends Sha’Carri Richardson over Olympics suspension for marijuana

After news broke that Richardson tested positive for marijuana and may miss the Tokyo Olympics this month, Twitter went wild.

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U.S. sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson is being shown love and support from many in the Black community on various social media platforms after news broke that she tested positive for marijuana and may miss the Tokyo Olympic Games.

It remains unclear if Richardson will be suspended, how long the suspension could be, if she will appeal and how it will affect the 21-year-old’s track star’s dreams, but the entire situation sent Twitter into a tizzy Thursday night. 

Sha’Carri Richardson runs — and celebrates her victory — in the Women’s 100 Meter semifinal on Day Two of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 19 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

“If you’re afraid of Sha’Carri smoking the brakes off y’all, just say that but suspending people for using marijuana — a billion-dollar industry at this point — is ridiculous,” journalist Evette Dionne wrote. She added, “I see people attempting to turn this into a ‘Black Americans vs. everybody’ issue. Let’s not. Sha’Carri deserves to run, no matter what country she represents.” 

Chuck Modi tweeted, “Marijuana? This is ridiculous if true. Sha’Carri Richardson deserves better. Do you have any idea all the shyt media and police looked the other way to allow Michael Phelps to keep swimming?” 

Phelps, 36, is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 28 medals to his name. The competitor in four Olympic Games and holder of the record for most Olympic gold medals is currently the spokesman for Talkspace, a mental health website, after admitting he battled substance abuse and depression.

“People keep bringing up Michael Phelps bong pics & suspension,” Modi continued on Twitter. “That was like 1% of it. He was protected for YEARS before/after that. Some of it public (2004 DUI; 2014 DUI; 2009 Car crash after drinking) and a whole lot more shyt private. There are stories. Protected whole career.”

Thursday morning, Richardson herself tweeted simply: “I am human.” 

The tweet has been liked more than 200,000 times, with celebrities and civilians alike responding with words of support. 

In a gut-wrenching Today exclusive Friday morning, Richardson said her struggles with the loss of her mother and the pressure of her track career contributed to her using marijuana to cope. “Every time I step on the track, it’s expected to be a record-breaking time.”

In response to show host Savannah Guthrie asking her how she came to test positive, Richardson began, “I want to take responsibility for my actions. I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what I’m allowed not to do and still made that decision.”

Continuing, she said, “I’m not making an excuse. I’m not looking for any empathy in my case … however, being in that position of my life, finding something out, finding out something like that, something that I would say is probably one of the biggest things to impact me positively and negatively in my life when it comes to dealing with the relationship I had with my mother. It definitely was a heavy topic on me.”

“People don’t understand what’s like to have to — or people do, we all have our struggles, we all have our different things we deal with — but to have to go out in front of the world and put on a face and hide my pain … who am I to tell you how to cope when you’re dealing with pain or a struggle you’ve never experienced before?”

Richardson then spoke about learning about her biological mother’s passing from a reporter during a scheduled interview.

“No offense to him, he was just doing his job. But, hearing that from a total stranger sent me into a state of … emotional panic,” she responded. “And knowing that I still have to go out and put on a performance for my dream. I still have to go out there and compete.” She confessed she was “blinded by hurt.”

“I know that I can’t hide myself,” said Richardson, “so in some type of way, I tried to hide my pain.”

More and more Black celebrities and public figures spoke out in support of Sha’Carri Richardson as news of her suspension became more widespread.

“Weed is great for many a thing but running faster isn’t one of them. LET HER RUN!!! #ShacarriRichardson,” tweeted actress Gabrielle Union.

Union’s husband, former NBA star Dwyane Wade, wrote in a tweet: “But majority of y’all rule makers smoke and probably are investors in THC companies. Let’s stop playing these games.”

“You’re amazing at what you do,” author Roxane Gay replied. “All best.” Another tweeted: “Yes, you are. We see you. Keep doing you. You make us proud. You have ‘Aunties’ around the globe in your corner.” 

Richardson won the women’s 100-meter race at the U.S. track and field trials last month, and, in a stunning display, she pointed at the clock that read 10.64 — making her the fastest woman in America. 

According to The New York Times, U.S.A. Track & Field has notified other competitors in that day’s events about the failed drug test, according to one person with direct knowledge of the information. The report claims several runners have been told they’ve moved up a spot in the final standings.

Richardson’s fate will no doubt reignite the debate about marijuana use in the U.S. and how punishment for it is inconsistent. While Richardson’s infraction is a part of a private organization with the U.S. Olympics, Black Americans are still more likely to be arrested than whites for marijuana use, despite using it at the same rate.

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