Global Roundup: Erin Jackson and Elana Meyers-Taylor make Olympic History for Black American Athletes, "Babushka" Battalion in Ukraine, Black Transgender Woman Awarded $1.5 Million After Bogus Arrest
Curated by FG Intern Sayge Urban
Erin Jackson celebrates gold in the 500m speed skating – the first Black woman to win an individual gold at the Winter Olympics. Photograph: Xinhua/Shutterstock via The Guardian
Medals in speed skating and monobob for Black Americans have raised hopes that more young athletes of color will thrive in winter sports. Speed skater Erin Jackson and Monobob sleigher Elana Meyers-Taylor are the first two Black Americans to win a medal for team USA in nearly a century of the Winter Olympics, with only 24 hours in between their winning races.
Jackson won the women’s 500m in speed skating, becoming the first Black woman from any country to win an individual gold in a Winter Olympics. This medal is even more impressive considering that Jackson was a roller derby skater, and only switched to blades in 2018.
Meyers-Taylor took silver in the monobob event to add a fourth Olympic medal to her career, equalling speed skater Shani David as the most decorated Black athlete in the Winter Games History.
Jackson, a 29-year-old former inline skater with an engineering degree from the University of Florida, made the US team for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang after only four months on the ice. She believes the reason that more young athletes of color cannot thrive in winter sports is because they are not given the opportunities.
I hope I can be an example…I would love to see more people of colour in all the winter sports. It helps to have some visibility out there, to be able to see other people like you doing something maybe you’d never thought about doing before. - Erin Jackson
Meyers-Taylor is the only woman to have won three Olympic bobsleigh medals for the US, before winning her fourth in China.
Kelly Curtis, a decorated athlete at Division III Springfield College became the first Black skeleton athlete to compete for the United States, joining Great Britain's Brogan Crowley and Italy’s Valentina Margaglio as the only women of colour in the field.
It’s pretty important. It’s part of my identity, but it’s not the only thing that I lean on…I would like to be known as one of the best sliders. It’s nice with a cherry on top to be known as the first Black Olympian for USA Skeleton, but I would also like to be one of the best. So that’s really what I’m trying to progress toward every time I go out there and slide. - Kelly Curtis
Abby Roque, a forward on the United States’ silver medal-winning women’s ice hockey team, made history as the first Indigenous women to play for the vaunted national side. Roque, 24, grew up in the Michigan town of Salut St. Marie, and is a member of the Wahnapitae First Nations Tribe on her fathers side.
It’s super exciting,..t’s something that I definitely take pride in and that I think is a great honour, but it’s also something that I hope we continue to grow.I hope there are more indigenous kids playing in the US, more kids who will make the Olympic roster some day. I wanted to be the first because I wanted to be on this roster, but I wish I wasn’t the first, I wish there were indigenous players on this roster before me. -Abby Roque
For Jackson, winning historic Olympic gold is only the start for what she hopes to achieve. Recently, she has been partnering with Edge Sports, about establishing a chapter in Utah, where she currently resides.
Edge sports is a nonprofit that works to bring more diversity to snow sports and promote the normalization of Black and brown bodies on ice rinks and ski slopes around the country.
Jackson hopes to eliminate barriers to entry by providing scholarships for winter sports to people of colour.
Hopefully it has an effect and we can see more minorities, especially in the USA, getting out and trying some of these winter sports. And I just always hope to be a good example, especially with helping kids see they don’t have to just choose one between schools and sport. - Erin Jackson
Valentyna Konstantynovska, 79, says she is ready to fight any Russian invasion [Emre Caylak/Al Jazeera]
The elder women of Mariupol, Ukraine have been training to defend their country from potential attacks from Russia.
Valentyna Konstantinovska, a 79-year-old resident in Mariupol said she is ready to take up arms and fight Russian soldiers to protect her city. Konstantinovska has been a volunteer for the military troops since conflict broke out in 2014. She and an army of “babushkas,” older women, have dug trenches, provided supplies, made nets, offered medical care and even built a lookout tower.
With tensions rising over the past week, and the threat of the entrance of US troops, the women said they are adamant they will protect where they call home.
I love my city, I am not leaving. Putin can’t scare us off. Yes, it’s terrifying, but we will stand for our Ukraine until the very end…I’ve been dreaming since 2014 to learn to use a gun, but was told ‘babushka, you are too old for that. You will be knocked off your feet with the recoil. - Valentyna Konstantinovska
A far right organization known as Azov has offered training and lessons in first response medical care, survival and education, weapons safety and how to shoot a weapon. Residents have stated that this is the only form of training they have received in almost eight years of conflict.
The Azov movement, a far-right all-volunteer infantry military unit, are ultra nationalists who are accused of harbouring neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideology. A political wing based in Kyiv gets little support – they failed to win any seats in parliament at the most recent elections in 2019.
However, in Mariupol, Azov’s military arm are often seen as defenders of the city after they reclaimed it from a brief occupation by Russian-backed separatists in 2014. With their base 40km (18 miles) from the strategic port city, they are the first line of defence in the event of an attack.
As the result of a 2019 facebook ban for hate speech, the movement advertised for their event on Instagram with no mention of Azov’s involvement and not all of the 300 or so attendees knew who had organised it.
For Konstantinovska, who does not share Azov’s political views, the only ideology she cares for is “defending their motherland”, which she says she agrees with wholeheartedly and does what she can to help.
Ju’Zema Goldring was awarded $1.5 million by a federal grand jury after she was wrongly arrested on false cocaine charges and jailed for nearly six months.Credit...WSB-TV via New York Times
A Black trangender woman who was wrongly accused of being in possession of cocaine in 2015, and was jailed for more than five months on faulty charges, is due $1.5 million dollars, a federal jury has found.
Ju’Zema Goldring, 29, was walking in the streets of Atlanta with some of her friends, when two officers arrested her for jaywalking, and claimed there was cocaine inside of her stress ball. A federal Judge, since then, has said they were wrong. Judge William Ray II said on Tuesday, two days after the jury’s verdict, that she deserves “some semblance of justice” for what occurred.
The officers responsible for the attack, Vladimir Henry and Juan Restrepo, sliced open the confiscated stress ball, claimed there was cocaine in “the interior content of the stress ball” according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in 2018. “She spent nearly six months in the Fulton County Jail based on this seemingly bogus charge,” Judge Ray wrote in his ruling.
Miguel A Dominguez, one of Ms. Goldring’s lawyers, said in an interview on Tuesday that “this whole ordeal has had a tremendous negative impact on her life,” and that she has struggled with nightmares and mental health issues after “being locked up as an innocent person for 23 hours a day.”
Steve Avery, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department, said Officers Henry and Restrepo are still employed and on duty. Ms. Goldring’s lawyers did not make her available for an interview, but they said her case underscored how Black transgender people were treated unjustly by law enforcement officials.
On October 10, 2015, the day of the arrest, Ms. Goldring, then 22, was in midtown Atlanta walking around with her friends in an area with a large LGBTQ+ population. She was then arrested on jaywalking charges, while the officers searched her purse. The stress ball was found and cut open while they taunted her with transgender slurs. Additionally, the officers performed an “invasive search” on her body while she wore a dress. The substance inside the stress ball was deemed by the officers to be cocaine. Ms. Goldring thought “they were joking” but they were not.
Ms. Goldring was then taken to the Fulton County Jail, where they conducted multiple drug tests on the substance inside of the stress ball, which came back negative. Officers then told her she had to wait in jail until the test results came back from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, or pay a $25,000 bail, which she could not afford at the time. While in jail, Ms. Goldring was placed in a dorm for people who identify as transgender, yet she was still subjected to sexual misconduct, her lawyers said.
She remained in jail for 5 months and 12 days until March 22, 2016, despite the fact that it was determined the contents inside the stress ball were not cocaine or any other drug substance on November 17 2015.
There's nothing about this that makes this all just go away. It's just a portion of what she needs to restore her and make her whole. And this verdict, unfortunately, won't do that. Miguel A Dominguez, one of Ms. Goldring’s lawyers
Sayge Urban (she/her) is a student at the University of Ottawa currently studying Psychology. She has a passion for writing and speaking out on issues she cares about and strongly believes in the power of words and the weight they hold. She is keen to use her voice and platform to bring awareness to the troubles and triumphs women face and is determined to use her voice to highlight those who cannot and do not have the resources to speak up.
Sayge is a firm believer in the unity of women across the world and the power they hold collectively and wants to use her time at FEMINIST GIANT to learn about the issues most pressing to women as well as they ways she can best be of help.