The athlete Simone Manuel is the first woman ever to earn 7 medals in only a single world championship last year in South Korea. The four-time Olympic medalist had also earned an Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle in the Rio Olympics in the year 2016. This was the year she became the first-ever black woman to win an individual medal in Olympic swimming.
Even with so many achievements the swimmer has accomplished, the Olympic star says she feels as if she’s not included and feels left out. The star even speaks about how there is still a lot of racism she faces in the world. Simone Manuel says she had once considered quitting because of this issue. This is the main reason she says why inclusivity is so important to her. She said if she were to quit she would have never accomplished all she has to this day and break the racial stereotypes out there.
Manuel uses her platform to speak out on racial injustices and unequalness. The swimmer even stated the sport “definitely has a long way to go when you’re talking about diversity and inclusion”. In 2019, reports showed out of 327,337 athletes only a small percentage are black; only 0.6% being black men and 0.8% being black women.
When the Olympic star was as young as 15, her parents made the decision to hire her a sports psychologist when she made the US national swimming team. Her parents say they made this decision because they knew what type of backlash she was going to have to face. Manuel’s mother told Sports Illustrator that “she knew her daughter Simone was going to have to deal with so much”.
The olympist always credited her birthplace and her coaches for guiding her in the right direction and helping her deal with racism. This includes having discussions with her about the hardships of becoming a black swimmer.
Simone Manuel thought of how wonderful it was having a coach whilst growing up. She really thought about the conversations of becoming a black swimmer and the difficulties that come with it. The very open and honest conversations really helped her throughout her career.
Because Simone is a record-breaking black athlete she often has to answer the race-related questions whenever she is doing an interview. Her coach Greg Meehan said because of her race she is put into such a big leadership role. She never has a big problem with answering the race-related questions during her interviews. “I don’t ever feel annoyed about answering the question because I do think that it is important to talk about. I think what becomes exhausting is being the only one, where I feel like questions generally are geared to me to answer,” she said in her Changing The Game podcast interview according to USA Today.
The Olympic star even says she doesn’t understand why these questions are specifically targeted towards her half of the time. Just because of one’s race, it shouldn’t depend on one’s inclusivity in a sport. No matter the race Asian, White, or Black that inclusivity should be important to every single athlete. “Because shouldn’t diversity, equality, and inclusion be important to all of us? It can’t just be important to Black people”.
Simone uses her platform to advocate and support diversity. She specifically uses the platform and following she earned to uplift social justice issues and racial injustices. Spreading awareness and advocating racial justice has now been easier ever since the passing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“In the past, I’ve felt like I had to filter what I say in order to not offend people or put myself in a position where I’d possibly be targeted for what I’m saying,” the athlete said. Simone also goes on to say how now it’s easier since more and more people are listening and how she can stand her ground and be more firm with her words.
Simone Manuel’s has been on social media promoting the Afro Swimmers Group message. The message was to ask for US swimming teams to hire more black swimmers and to make larger swim caps for black swimmers with their natural hairstyles.
In a conversation with CBS News, Manuel spoke about how people everywhere should try to break stereotypes. She wants to make it so people don’t feel like they are incapable of doing amazing things but don’t feel good enough due to these different stereotypes. She wants people to know they can achieve anything no matter the color of their skin and without the stereotypes.