In Duluth, Minnesota, a Black 12-year-old swimmer Leidy Lyons was disqualified from a meet on Feb. 6 for wearing a Black Lives Matter swimsuit.
However, the ruling was eventually overturned by the local YMCA that organized the meet. Members of the local NAACP also arrived and showed support that helped reverse the decision, reinstating Leidy in the race. Leidy wore the swimsuit in honor of Amir Locke, the man recently shot and killed after being awakened on a couch during the execution of a no-knock search warrant a Minneapolis Police Department SWAT team.
“This is a humanitarian issue. It’s not political. It’s human. It’s humanizing something,” said Classie Dudley, president of the NAACP’s Duluth Branch, according to reports.
Leidy, a 12-year old Black girl was nearly disqualified for wearing her Black Lives Matter swimsuit. What we’re not gonna do is be silent about this. Especially during Black History month. pic.twitter.com/t57Sf0hPbK
— GirlTrek (@GirlTrek) February 9, 2022
Righting A Wrong
“It’s important that when you see something, you have to say something,” said Dudley. ‘That same energy that the NAACP brought when we showed up to support Leidy is the same energy that the community should have had in that moment.”
According to Sarah Lyons, Leidy’s mom, she wanted to honor Amir Locke’s death by police by wearing the swimsuit as a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement as a woman of color.
“She is very passionate about social justice. She has been through a lot already at a young age. It’s a big part of her, which I think is wild at 12,” Lyons said according to reports.
— DuluthPublicSchools (@Duluth_Schools) February 9, 2022
USA Swimming has a policy that explicitly bans any political language. The bathing suit was a violation of that policy.
According to USA Swimming, Leidy would have been allowed to change into another suit. However, according to reports, an “independent volunteer official” barred the student-athlete from participating due to the “Black Lives Matter” swimsuit.
Later the official downgraded the reason for dismissal to logo size and not political speech.
The volunteer race official that disqualified the young athlete was banned. Later, the Duluth YMCA put out a statement stating it would “hold officials accountable for further education to address systemic racism.”
“The Duluth YMCA is saddened that the student, their family, and teammates had to endure this unacceptable behavior. The Duluth YMCA will continue our ongoing commitment to train all staff and volunteers on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the statement said.
“The Duluth Area Family YMCA is committed to being an anti-racist organization and stands with BIPOC communities throughout the Northland and throughout our country. We know that Black Lives Matter and we will continue to work to educate ourselves, to stand against inequality, and to strive to be active allies in the ongoing fight for diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Support Pours In
The news of Leidy’s stance sparked conversation in the sports world. Superstar LeBron James posted Leidy’s picture on his Instagram Stories in support of her.
“Leidy, you’re a Beautiful Black Queen, keep going and keep inspiring”
“Mom, I’m not taking the suit off,” Leidy said when the volunteer race official told her to change or be disqualified.
“You go, girl,” her mom responded.
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