Gwen Berry – throwing out a protest

Gwen Berry, the US hammer thrower has responded to criticism after she turned away from the American flag on the podium at the Olympic trials medal ceremony, saying she “never said that I hated the country. All I said was I respect my people enough to not stand or acknowledge something that disrespects them.” She draped a T-shirt carrying the words “activist athlete” over her head. Joe Biden issued a statement saying that “part of the pride in our country means recognizing there are moments where we haven’t lived up to our highest ideals. And it means respecting the rights of people granted to them in the Constitution to peacefully protest.” Other athletes have offered support to her.

   In 2019, Berry lost some of her sponsorships after raising her fist in protest on the podium at the Pan American Games in Peru and received a 12-month probation from the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee for the act. She has accused critics of her protest of favouring “patriotism over basic morality”.

  Born 29 June 1989 St Louis, Missouri, she has a Cancer Sun opposition the highly-strung, can-be-tinged-with-genius and also chaotic Saturn, Neptune, Uranus conjunction in Capricorn and trine Pluto. The Sun Neptune Pluto marks her out as more than usually ambitious. Her Pluto is also in an angry and aggravated square to Mars in flamboyant Leo with her Mars in an enthusiastic conjunction to Venus.  Plus she has her North Node in dedicated-to-a-cause Aquarius.

  She’s certainly determined, enraged, uncompromising and unpredictable. Her Moon is in stubborn and earthy Taurus. Tr Neptune square her Jupiter this year until early 2023 will dash a few of her hopes; the tr Saturn square tr Uranus will tug at her aggravated Mars square Pluto; and there are muddled, unhelpful Solar Arcs in 2022 so it won’t be easy in the immediate future.

  If I’m honest I’d have to admit to being conflicted. There are clearly huge and ongoing injustices that keep not being addressed which do damage to a goodly chunk of the population – and they need to be faced up to and brought under control.  I quite understand why those in a position to make a stand do so.

  And yet and yet – maybe its just compassion fatigue or oppression exhaustion – it does jar. As do the present run of USA TV police crime and medical series which have gone into propaganda mode. Which is perfectly understandable at one level given the inequities perpetrated against the black community.  And I am a huge believer in drama being a good vehicle for putting new ideas out into the culture. But but but – is it effective?  I’m not sure.

Pic: jenaragon94

24 thoughts on “Gwen Berry – throwing out a protest

  1. Virgoflake, in high school .one of my fellow students was sexist as he said he didn’t know how he was supposed to perceive women, except as sex objects. Yet you could never say he was racist or homophobe. One doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. And I think a lot of men are like that. I don’t think he ever did or meant any harm by it.

    We have all heard about yin and yang, but are there Adam and Eve charts in astrology

  2. Thank-you Roderick, for your thoughtful and clear comments…. unpacking a very complex issue.

    I am a “liberal white female”… labelled as such by a wonderful black woman at an intense Worldwork seminar with Arnie Mindel… each day focussing on an “ism”…. sexism, ageism, racism, etc. Unbelievably impactful to a prairie girl of immigrant parents. I certainly have the experience of a multigenerational history of pain and abuse…..but this still blew me out of the water… to really HEAR the personal stories of African Americans, to process the opposing views, and hopefully catch a numinous moment of understanding in our 200+ diverse group.

    It was alway only a moment!!… but we would hold onto it as long as we could, send it out as a “good ripple or two”….and then watch it fracture into discordant words again. Still…. it was powerful!!

    Last Thursday was July 1st… Canada Day. .. 154 years of confederation.
    And Canada.. esp here in BC… is in the throws of a raw and difficult reckoning with the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children.

    My husband and I stood on the lawn of our legislature with hundreds of people.. most wearing orange shirts to honour these children. This ridiculous stone monolith of power!!
    There was no ceremony for the Confederation.
    There were Indigenous voices.. thundering voices… sharing their stories… their pain… their humour!!! There were Indigenous dancers and drumming. This was a time for THEM.

    And you know?…. it was SO from the Heart, too. Anger and heart together.
    We listened and listened and listened…. to words in their native language… to words in English.
    The Indigenous leaders are asking for this now….
    Listen. Reflect. Listen more.

    Yes.. there is so much pain coming up now…. so much compassion fatigue.
    I would suggest that you find one thing to really listen to… one person in pain… or one group.
    Be present for that fully.
    Yes… you also have personal issues…. I certainly know about sexism, misogyny, abuse,…etc.
    However… my experience at this ceremony was not about me… and that’s okay for now.

    Now? I need to hear THEIR story… and bring my full heart and Presence.
    I have never been to a more meaningful Canada Day celebration.
    It felt Whole and Sacred.

  3. Agree 1000 percent!!

    A good start is the Netflix movie 13th by Ava DuVernay.

    In her documentary she explores how the Thirteenth Amendment led to the birth of slave patrols and the epidemic of mass incarceration. A must see for a true understanding and history of policing minorities in America.

  4. Why I raised the issue was my experience running a bruising campaign against child abuse in the 1990s – airing the inequities and injustices and trying to foster change. From that time I know how quickly non-professional people get saturated with misery and switch off. If it doesn’t touch their lives and is too big a problem for them to reckon they can make a dent in they just don’t want to know.
    Activism nowadays covers such a range of justified grievances that people are bombarded. I’m not sure what the answer is.
    Drama can make a difference – Cathy Come Home, a TV drama about homelessness in the 1960s, led to the setting up of the Crisis charity but it was another ten years before there was legislation. There have been innumerable dramas about child abuse but I’m not sure it has had much impact on the problem. In novel writing there is a rule of thumb about ‘show don’t tell’ – ie. dramatize the problem don’t go off on a ranting lecture. That last is what is weighing down some of the TV police/medical series this year on the racism issue.

  5. It is rather fatiguing yet imagine representing a country that prides itself on exceptionalism predicated on the idea that all men are created equal only to have that concept questioned by a series of rather vile events unfolding on the world stage.

    You mentioned the present run of USA TV police crime and medical series seems to have gone into propaganda mode. I find it rather fascinating, yet sadly so, that many of us – of all races – never heard about the Tulsa Massacre until the airing of the Watchman series, a SUPERHERO television show. Learning of the craven assault of prosperous blacks living in a town known as Black Wallstreet only to have hundreds killed in a state-sponsored attack furthered many to research that Tulsa was only one of many massacres during that period.

    My TV moment, which hit me like a ton of bricks, was when I heard a woman interviewed who said …. some American children of color of tax-paying parents attend public schools named after confederate leaders and individuals who terrorized their ancestors. Imagine, if we as a society condoned naming schools and erecting statues of nazis and then sent Jewish children to said schools? Or, what about black private school children who try to reconcile their teaching of a middle-eastern man that lived 2100 years ago has a likeness portrayed throughout history and the world as someone with blonde/brown hair and blue eyes ….

    I liken Gwen Berry’s actions to thoughts of James Baldwin who said he loved his country more than any other place in the world yet he had the right to criticize her perpetually. Berry, like Baldwin, is challenging America to live up to its principal ideas. It’s gripping to watch yet a testament to reconciling much swept under the rug for centuries.

    • I agree with your comments. It is important when you have a life in which you don’t experience racial discrimination day-to-day, to be able to place yourself in another’s shoes and see the world through their eyes and with the lens of their experience and history.

      • I am a white woman who grew up during the 1950s. Sexism was rife, in education and endemic in social attitudes. This does mean that there is unfairness and discrimination in many sections of society. So called white privilege is non existent in many working class communities. I now feel that the anger from black groups directed at white people is counter productive and making social divisions wider.

        • Yes, like most women I’ve experienced sexism which is still rife. If anything, the humiliation and the shame of being subjected to that kind of behaviour makes me more sympathetic to the experience of others who face discrimination based on the colour of their skin. Besides, it’s my experience that misogyny and sexism go hand in hand with racism, since you inevitably find that sexists are also racists and homophobes.

        • What you feel is well appreciated @Emily, but your experience minuses the other layers that black people have experienced, and still experiencing, and have had to teach their children to ignore and battle through before they even get to the sexism part. So please appreciate ‘that the anger from black groups’ is more complex than you describe from your experience. Then appreciate the many hoops they have had to and still have to jump through just based on color and perception. Quite frankly it is absolutely exhausting and soul demoralizing. Yet we rise!!

  6. Gwen Berry, black yes, beautiful yes, I love the tattoo. Making a statement in a way she felt would have the most impact, misjudged perhaps, but risking everything takes courage. In the eyes of the law all people are supposed equal, in everyday life how many minority groups feel free to be who they are without judgement. Amazingly 1928 before women in England, Wales and Scotland received the right to vote on the same terms as men. Society still has a long way to go before every group is treated equally. Young black men having the biggest hurdle to climb. (I would be classed as on old white lady by the way).

    • Tia: I’m suffering from racism fatigue. If only it would just go away.

      Imagine how black people feel when we’ve been suffering from it for 400+ years.

      • Yes Roderick, and have been suffering in silence as @lolz wishes we would! As a result the aftermath of George Floyd happened, hence ‘feeling afraid ….’. Help make change happen by starting in their mentality and their homes, and they wouldn’t feel that way.

        Wow, I get it in terms of self preservation but an insensitive comment to put it mildly. This is what they say because they don’t want to deal with the reality of this elephant in the room, as if every human being on this planet doesn’t want to live and enjoy their best life. Really?!!

  7. If only people would suffer in silence so those who don’t have to feel afraid for their lives or that of their loved ones any time they venture outside can enjoy life as they know it!

  8. Yes. It is effective Marjorie. Some years ago did you mention Pluto ruled ‘black’ people and with Pluto’s move into Capricorn we’d see black people (did this include Asians) come into prominence? Well, never a truer word was said. Barack? People of colour et al making their voices heard. It really is important. Pluto in Capricorn is very interesting and it may upset many. Also, more importantly we see the Emperor is not wearing any clothing. Thanks to that non-planet Pluto

  9. Not effective, and it is fatigue. This respite under Biden may not last so time needs to be well used.

    Marjorie- can you do a crime report on some of the cities that have anti policing now in the USA? Atlanta is in trouble. Baltimore has been in trouble. I live in Md, won’t go near.

    Naive idealism has made way for some real bad actors.

      • Accountable yes, but there still needs to be law and order otherwise there is chaos.
        “A year ago, a majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledged to disband the police department. At protests around the country, left-wing activists chanted, “Defund the police!” And in New York City, an insurgent liberal who embraced that slogan ousted a longtime Democratic congressman.”

        “But now, President Biden is inviting local governments to use federal money to fund police departments and hire more officers. The Democratic mayor of Minneapolis wants to replenish his city’s police force. And a former policeman running on a law-and-order platform is leading as votes are counted in the Democratic primary for New York mayor.”

        “Thirteen months after the police killing of George Floyd sparked an impassioned movement in the Democratic Party to rein in police departments, a surge in homicides has prompted a shift in the opposite direction. Democrats are scrambling to make new investments in policing and seeking to project toughness on crime, even as they continue pushing for police reforms and alternative means of deterring crime.
        ‘Defund police’ is a phrase that I wish had never been uttered,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), who ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when Republicans picked up 13 House seats over the two-year 2020 election cycle. “We’ve got to do a better job of talking about what we do want to do.”

        • No disrespect, but Marjorie you do need to do some research about the origins of American policing.

          The modern day police in America evolved from the slave patrols which were tasked with returning escaped slaves to their masters, and America’s modern day justice system or as most minorities call it–the just-us system was always been biased but that corruption accelerated after the for-profit-prisons came into fashion during the 1990s and it needs to destroyed and reimagined.

          Also you and others are grasping at straws as to attempting to tie the rise in crime to holding police accountable crime which I believe to be related to COVID-19.

          Honestly I believe that some of the increase in crime is the result of some type COVID-19 psychosis because people are committing crimes for literally no reason but you can buy into the media narrative if you so chose.

          • Would be interesting to look at policing in US before black slavery became the pandemic. Oh but whoops, sorry before the black ‘problem’ which they created was the Native American ‘problem’ so oh well …. !!

            What about policing in that time of the ‘Wild Wild West’ that we see in the movies?? There was none?? Thats a myth because all Caucasians were one big happy family and everyone behaved except the natives? Okaaay then!!!!

          • The London Metropolitan police were deemed institutionally racist some years back and they were not started as slave patrols. I suspect it is more to do with the type of personality the police attracts to work for them.

        • Conflating the rising crime rate with so-called defunding of police is fallacious and a knee jerk right-wing talking for the following reasons:
          1) The reason be for the rise in crime be tied to the fact that communities which were already poor were hit hard economically and maybe that is the reason for the rise in violent crime
          2) There have been few if any cities which have actually reduced the budgets of police departments besides Seattle.
          Furthermore it takes years of data to make any type of correlation between any factors so we don’t know.
          3) Violence of all kinds has increased across America. There have been so many incidents aboard domestic air flights that the flight attendants union wants something done about it yesterday.

          As I stated my previous post there needs to be a study to determine if there is some type of metal illness linked to COVID-19.

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