[OPINION] We could drink a case of Caster
Caster Semenya is a stellar athlete of our time. In the 400 metres she clocks in at under 50 seconds. The first woman to do so. She’s also the first woman to ever run the 800 metres in 2 minutes or less and the 1,500 metres in 4 minutes.
The South African middle-distance sprinter holds two Olympic medals. A gold for the 800 metres event at the 2012 Olympics as well as the 2016 Olympics. And back in 2010 she made the list of British magazine’s New Statesman’s list of 50 people that matter. Why? Because Semenya is also the first sprinter to be subject to gender testing and as a result, was withdrawn from the IAAF for a year.
And this matters most of all.
Nine years later, and Semenya once again finds herself at the starting line of another race, pacing towards the red ribbon of excellence and the threatening power of black magic.
The athlete is currently engaged in a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, where she is challenging the IAAF’s rules that would force her to lower her testosterone levels.
Semenya has yet to issue a statement. But her tweets speak louder than the legislative actions thus far. Motivational, positive and spiritual.
Her lawyers have also quoted her as saying that: women should be celebrated for their natural talents and without discrimination. Semenya stands steadfast in her fight to eradicate a regulation whose only purpose is to disempower and police the sex of female athletes.
Semenya is another example of the sweet sound of the lonely sprint. A black woman immersed in the blush of success and the bloom of many firsts.
But the bitter infatuation of a community steeped in a centuries long habit of the need to break the black body is placing the athlete, like many before her, in the centre of a stadium filled with wanting eyes, waiting to watch her crumble.
The solace of her South African support must push her to lean a bit more forward, steady herself a bit more firmly and start a bit stronger. But her race to success, although sweet, must be lonely.
The interest in Semenya - both positive and negative - is a human one. As beings blessed (or cursed) with the unique quality of forethought, our ability to create the future we imagine is a powerful one. We make the unimaginable imaginable. We make a force like Semenya real. And she makes herself real as she asserts herself in the lane of greatness. But no mind is the same and it’s unfortunate that some use their forethought to steer the future to one of bigotry, insecurity and castigation.
But the fight and the belief of individuality is not one that will expire with the errors of societies who encompass patriarchal and white norms. The standardised ways of identifying beauty, physique, gender and sexuality no less are interesting in that they force us to maintain our individuality through their sin of unfamiliarity and pure fear.
All the things a person is, is not in the eye entitled to the loudest voice.
Yesterday Katie Hopkins, you know, that white woman from the UK who arrived on our shores to expose farm murders as a genocide and national crisis… and defend Steve Hofmeyr, tweeted the following: “Olympic champion Caster Semenya arrives at a tribunal in Switzerland for a landmark case that will challenge how many testicles you can have to compete as a WOMAN in Olympic sport. #CasterSemenya”.
Olympic champion Caster Semenya arrives at tribunal in Switzerland for a landmark case that will challenge how many testicles you can have to compete as a WOMAN in Olympic sport. #CasterSemenya pic.twitter.com/J7Z36qfwbd— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) February 18, 2019
Hopkins’s tweet is contradictory at best.
She is evidence of an imprisoned mind that cannot deny greatness. She concedes that Semenya is an Olympic champion. And then goes on the offensive to insult Semenya’s identity by attacking her body. Hopkins is the caged bird that sings. Only, she doesn’t know how to fly. She is able to bear witness to Semenya’s victory whether she likes it or not. And she probably doesn’t. But what she doesn’t realise won’t hurt her.
The black body is not new to white envy. The black body is the aesthetic truth that blind eyes cannot be turned on. It runs faster, jumps higher, looks stronger and, to be honest, it dresses better.
Jealousy turns white people green and kills the black mind and seeks to kill it still. But the black body works harder, they all know that, and they always will and the stigma and subtleties of what can only be described as attacks based on poisonous inferiority complexes will not water down the cup of success brimming with the sweat of superiority.
Our athlete’s cup is full. We are forever drawn to her fearlessness as we raise our glasses and drink a case of Caster.
Haji Mohamed Dawjee is a South African columnist, disruptor of the peace and the author of 'Sorry, Not Sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa'. Follow her on Twitter.