Episode 117: Colonialism and Sport in Puerto Rico and PanAm Games Lima 2019
On this week’s show, Amira, Brenda, and Shireen discuss WNBA All Star-game [6:00] Then they discuss the history of sport and colonialism in the US in light of Puerto Rican protests [22:30] Brenda interviews Júlia Belas, a Brazilian journalist, who explains the landscape of media and diversity in Brazil, what's happened since WWC, and Pia Sundhage as new head coach [33:22] Finally, the crew discusses their excitement over the Pan-Am and Para-Pan Games in Lima
Of course, you’ll hear the Burn Pile, [43:51] our Bad Ass Woman of the Week, starring Allyson Felix [52:52] and what is good in our worlds. [54:07]
Why the IOC considers Puerto Rico as its own country in the Olympics: https://www.si.com/olympics/2016/08/06/olympics-puerto-rico-united-states-ioc
The Protests in Puerto Rico Are About Life and Death: https://nacla.org/news/2019/07/18/protests-puerto-rico-are-about-life-and-death
Alex Cora Proud Of ‘Powerful’ Protests That Lead To Change In Puerto Rico: https://nesn.com/2019/07/alex-cora-proud-of-powerful-protests-that-lead-to-change-in-puerto-rico/
2019 Pan American Games in Peru: Schedule, highlights, athletes to watch: https://www.espn.com/olympics/story/_/id/27245367/2019-pan-american-games-peru-schedule-highlights-athletes-watch
Peru bursts with pride as Lima opens Pan Am Games: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-games-panam/peru-bursts-with-pride-as-lima-opens-pan-am-games-idUSKCN1UM04B
Felix finishes 6th in 400, misses on world spot: http://www.espn.com/espnw/sports/article/27271096/felix-finishes-6th-400-misses-world-spot
Brenda: Welcome to this week's episode of Burn It All Down. It's the feminist sports podcast you need. I'm Brenda Elsey, associate professor of history at Hofstra University and I'm joined by two of my marvelous co-hosts, the brilliant Dr. Amira Rose Davis, assistant professor of history and African American studies at Penn State University and the wonderful and whip smart Shireen Ahmed. She is a freelance journalist in Toronto, Canada.
On this week's episode, we're going to talk about colonialism in sport in light of the recent protests in Puerto Rico. We're going to talk about the Pan Am Games and I sit down with young sports journalist Júlia Belas from São Paulo, Brazil to talk about the state of diversity in Brazilian media, sports media in particular and what's gone on in their women's game since the World Cup.
But before all that, I wanted to say at least a little bit about the WNBA All Star game and the sighting of Burn It All Down merch. WNBA stuff. I know Linds isn't with us and she's there but what's been cool for you guys?
Shireen: There's an orange carpet event, of course I stan everything that Kia Nurse does and she debuted her new sneakers. I don't need basketball sneakers because I don't play basketball, but I just sort of feel like I love her and I want to support her every venture. So, I'm thinking about basketball sneakers. And Lindsay had tweeted out she saw somebody on the Jumbotron that actually was wearing BIAD merch. That was very exciting for me.
Brenda: Did you see this, Amira?
Amira: I did. It was very, very, very exciting to see it out in the wild and just as a reminder, you too can get your own merchandise now on our Teespring store and I'll give you a little secret. If you use the code BURN15, you get 15% off your order until the end of the summer. So, that was a small promotion but also it was very exciting to see.
My favorite thing about All Star, there's this funny video that Katie Nolan posted of Nneka, my friend Nneka and her sister Chiney who were at an after party on the phone with each other dancing at different parts of the party, but on the phone with each other dancing at the same time. Thankfully, Katie Nolan was there to get a video, so she was able to zoom from one sister to another, to watch them dance the exact same way while talking to each other the phone. That was a riot.
Also, they changed their outfits within an hour of each other to completely different looks of the day and that was quite impressive. It just seemed like a blast. Everybody seems to be having a great time and there's a really interesting announcement came out that I'm sure we'll talk more about.
But one of the initial things that was announced this past weekend is that FIBA has introduced an initiative aimed at keeping the top US women's team players here instead of going abroad and this would be an expanded game and training camp schedule leading up to, say, the Olympic games. It's a quest to win a seventh medal.
Like I said, it's really designed to keep some of the top talent home. They've already unveiled eight names including Nneka, including Sue Bird, including Elena Delle Donne. There's eight names already on the list. There's four other spots up for grabs and this is a pilot program that would look to sustain their salaries during the offseason and in the run up to the Olympics to make them more like the women's national soccer team.
It'll be very interesting to see how that plays out but the announcement, to me at least, made me cautiously optimistic that there was some end in thought and thinking about how can we sustain and help grow the sport as well as compensate and give resources to our women's national team players. So, that was exciting and I can't wait to dive more into that and look at that more closely in the upcoming weeks.
Shireen: I have a question. Is that also hoping to prevent them from traveling overseas in the offseason? We know Briana Stewart got injured.
Amira: Yes, that's what I meant by keeping them home.
Shireen: So their bodies aren't being used 12 months of the year so they can survive financially.
Amira: Right, exactly.
Shireen: That's great. I hope that works out. That's important.
Brenda: I just want to say that the small person, child, I assume that was wearing a Burn It All Down shirt was also wearing a unicorn skirt. Can we just say that the unicorn mixed with the giant flames is the best ever? There's something-
Amira: It's the mash up you never knew you needed.
Brenda: Exactly. There's something amazing about unicorn plus giant incinerator for all the garbage in sports. I feel like it's garbage in sports, incinerator, here comes the unicorn. Thank you, little junior flamethrower for making our weekend.
Now, given this week which has been incredibly important for Puerto Rico and has seen the resignation of a governor and mass public protests and some very important celebrities coming out in favor and some very important celebrities sitting down, we wanted to talk a little bit about colonialism in sport. Amira, do you want to start us off?
Amira: Yeah, I certainly do. There's an image trending that has been circulating online this past week that really speaks to the heart of what we wanted this conversation to be about. It's an image by Vienna Rye, she posted it on her Instagram, we'll link it to the show notes, that was a beautifully composed image that said, "From Hawaii to Puerto Rico, US colonialism must end."
It was a mash up picture of people protesting in both Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Now, if you've been paying attention to the news or you might've seen images over the last week and a half or so, you'll have seen people take the streets in both Puerto Rico as well as Hawaii and across both of those diasporas in solidarity for various reasons.
In Hawaii, you have the protest centering around the protection of Mauna Kea, which is a sacred spot in Hawaii. It's also the tallest point. It's believed that's where the spiritual connection from the gods to the land in Hawaii is. It is tantamount to putting a three million dollar telescope the size of three football fields on the Vatican.
That is one of the protests that we've seen happening as people, elders, spiritual elders have come to literally lay their bodies on the line and protect a sacred space while this massive telescope that is being bankrolled by the government as well as 30 universities, check the list, see if your school is implicated on it, are combining to fund this massive, massive project in a site that disrupts the spiritual connection that many have to the land.
Then in Puerto Rico, a protest that started by calling for the resignation of the governor of Puerto Rico. You may have seen the hashtag #RickyRenuncia and then that turned to #RickySeFue after he finally announced his resignation, yay, as of August 2nd.
But the protests were not simply about getting the governor out of power. They were in reaction to chats that had been released to the public that shows misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, callous regard to those who are suffering in the wake of Hurricane Maria and so on and so forth.
But the protest itself was about more than just that. It was about generally the state of Puerto Rico has a control board that is really just a colonial control board and I think both of these and why that image spoke to me so powerfully is because both of these protests, I think, have touched their respective diasporas and gotten a lot of people on board for solidarity because they have manifested into a real reckoning about the legacies and the harm of US colonialism in those specific spaces.
It morphs to be not just about the chats. It's not just about this one sacred space, but it's about the seizing of land. It's about the disregard that the United States has shown to both of these places that have some similarities, of course, in terms of looking for military footholds in respective places, business interest in both places, disaster capitalism in both places.
I think one of the things that this triggered for us, however, is a few weeks back, we had a wonderful conversation about colonialism in sport, particularly centered on the Women's World Cup and we focused mainly on European colonialism, French and British colonialism in particular.
I think this opened up a moment to say, okay, we have two spaces who are pushing back against US colonialism and I think that part of that legacy has been interwoven with sports as most all politics are. When we think about the legacies of colonization in these spaces, we can see sport wrapped up into them.
That's kind of the conversation we want to have today and if you remember back on episode 71, we had a conversation about the colonization of surfing and Shireen spoke with Bonnie Tsui about her upcoming book Why We Swim. I think that that conversation is good to revisit to do a deep dive on Hawaii.
Certainly folks like Duke Kahanamoku who if you've ever been to Waikiki, that's the statue on the beach of Waikiki. A surfing legend, swimmer, but thinking about his history of being born before the monarchy was overthrown in Hawaii to living up until Hawaii became a state, living with citizenship eventually, representing at the Olympic games.
There's all of this gray area in being a colonial subject and his expression as an athlete. I think that's a great conversation to revisit and we wanted to just kind of think about the intersection of US colonialism in sports in these two spaces. I think we'll start and dive right in with Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is a really interesting space. It's a commonwealth of the United States, but every year, when we do the Pan American Games which we'll talk about later, the Olympics, if you're turning on the TV, you're watching those introductions, the march in, you might stop and say, "Hmm, why does Puerto Rico have its own team if it's commonwealth of the United States?" I think that's a question that a lot of people have.
Brenda: Why DOES Puerto Rico have its own team, also in the Olympics?
Amira: I will now tell you.
Brenda: And not only that, but also in soccer.
Amira: Right, certainly. To answer this question, we have to go back to the mid-20th century and one of the things that we see there is a desire for countries to participate in these international competitions as a way to prove that they were countries that were strong and vital and independent. This is a particularly important moment as you have the emergence of new sovereign nation states starting in the mid-century going all the way up, especially in the '60s.
You have all these new countries who, one of the first things they do and prioritize is trying to make themselves legible to the IOC, to the International Olympic Committee. Within that, they had a whole program, the governing supporting bodies that were aimed to help smaller, more emerging spaces in countries get off the ground and into the IOC.
Within that, you have this opportunity for Puerto Rico led by people on the island who said, "We want to compete separately." They had participated in games in the '30s under the U.S. flag and there was a movement within the island to say, "No, actually we want sovereignty when it comes to international competition."
But the rub was in order to do that, you had to prove that you were seen as an independent functioning state, that you had international standing, et cetera. By 1948, there was a big enough movement at the state level, at the Olympic level for officials to petition for inclusion in international games. Specifically, they were aiming at the IOC for Olympic inclusion.
So, they had to write a letter to the IOC, whatever, and there was this really telling quote that actually my grad student, Paulina, who's phenomenal, have to have her on the show, pulled out and brought to my attention.
In the response to this request for Puerto Rico to become independent in terms of the Olympic games, the nasty president of the IOC, Avery Brundage who I detest basically was like, "Okay, there's a possibility that they can participate in the Olympics, but..." This is what he said: "Because of its political status as a dependency, permission would have to be obtained by the U.S. Olympic Association and the other U.S. amateur athletic associations."
While he goes on to note that this could be arranged without trouble, it tells you that even Puerto Rico's participation required permission, required them essentially asking their parents, "Can we participate in these games? Can you sign this waiver form for us?" It reinforces this kind of colonial relationship.
It happened and they were ushered into the IOC under the global sporting bodies initiative and since 1948 have competed under the Puerto Rican flag in the international games that the IOC oversees. That's not without tension, right? You have instances in the late '60s where Puerto Rican athletes protested the playing of the U.S. national anthem.
You have the '79 Pan Am games which we can talk about later where the basketball match between the U.S. and Puerto Rico became this huge moment of sovereign expression. You have a lot of the players on Puerto Rican teams coming from the diaspora and really uniting this political feeling of folks on the island against the U.S.
I think that really is something, if we pull back a bit, really is a way to think about sport in both Puerto Rico and Hawaii which is that it's had this dual effect. On one hand, you've had early YMCA missionaries in both spaces that have imported sport in particular ways, sports that are not necessary indigenous to those spaces.
Lots of calisthenics and basketball, baseball. You had it as a space that also promoted cultural unity in Hawaii where you had Japanese laborers and Chinese laborers and imported slaves from Puerto Rico and you had native Hawaiians and everybody was kind of coming together in these sporting spaces.
But you also had it as the ability to turn it on its head and become a site of sovereign expression, as you see with Puerto Rico saying, "We want to be represented. We want to walk in under the Puerto Rican flag and have our own teams at the international level."
So, I think sport is this really interesting laboratory and this space where at once, it can be a driver of colonization and on the other hand, it also can create a space in which people can push back on that and try to express themselves and push for sovereignty within a sporting space.
Shireen: Yeah, thanks. I just had a really quick question, just to talk about Puerto Rico as you were saying a commonwealth sort of region of the United States. Do Puerto Ricans have American citizenship?
Shireen: Is that awarded them, because... Okay, they do. So then, could it be called a territory? Because the difference is Hawaii is an actual state of the United States, right? It's one of the little stars on the Star Spangled Banner.
Amira: Right. Puerto Rico is certainly a territory. I think it's fairly interchangeable in that way. I always think that Hawaii serves as a really good example of those who would push for statehood for Puerto Rico thinking it would end colonial ills. Hawaii is the shining example of the fact that that's not the case, right?
Both territories are very similar in the sense of they were military holds, whether it's from Pearl Harbor, the U.S. having a foothold in the Pacific or the Navy continually bombing the shit out of Vieques in order to test military weapons and to have a foothold in the Caribbean. Both serve that kind of strategic function.
One of the things that happens with Hawaii of course is that when Pearl Harbor happens, the U.S. mainland interprets that as an attack on themselves in order to go to war. That facilitates this space in which Hawaii, it's easier to call Hawaii a state. When statehood eventually happens, there's already this precedence of ownership that's there in a way that with Puerto Rico, it never is...
Even when Hurricane Maria was happening, it's not like this is happening to “us.” There's always kind of an other sense, but I think it's really important also to think about the way in Hawaii, especially business interests have shaped this. When they overthrew the queen in the early 1900s, it was by 2000 white plantation owners and businessmen through the island who essentially overthrew a monarchy to establish themselves and disenfranchised 14,000 people to wrest the control into the hands of 2000. That is the kind of legacy of Hawaii early on.
Shireen: No, I think that's really fascinating, particularly talking about the sports that the colonizers brought over as opposed to indigenous sports to those areas where we know surfing, paddleboarding, and all these things are very indigenous to Hawaii. I think about that in a way that cricket was brought to South Asia, the diaspora and everything like that and how now it's a main sport in those places that were colonized.
It's completely taken over. One could argue England won the recent men's cricket World cup but it's sort like, the amount that it's played in places that were once colonized and that residual effect is still there, but I'm a believer that sport, it's very relevant to how it comes and I really appreciate you giving this background.
Does that mean that in Puerto Rico, baseball wasn't there but it came there as the American game and now it's very heavily played in that region? Is that sort of the same thing?
Brenda: Yeah. I think it is very much the same thing. If you think about empire, where the British had more colonial roots, you have soccer. Where the United States has colonial relationships, you have baseball. Whether it's Japan or Korea or Mexico, which is divided because it's been fucked with by both the U.S. and England. I do think you follow the colonial power and you follow the sport.
Shireen: Ricky Martin on any moving vehicle, pride flag, is a win and I just appreciate that and I appreciate it's not a lot that we necessarily see in places particularly where there's a danger to marginalized communities as well, particularly vulnerable communities like LGBTIQ where we see that. It was so important and I was just moved by that. Also, I love Ricky Martin so I was happy. I was happy to see that. Even the way he was resisting and waving the flag was so on rhythm, so I was just so appreciating that situation.
Brenda: I am so excited to be sitting down today with Júlia Belas Trindade, a sports journalist who specializes in women's football. She's based in São Paulo, Brazil and you can find her at Twitter, @july_bt. Check her out. Júlia, thanks for being with us at Burn It All Down.
Júlia: Thanks for inviting me. It's a great, great honor to be talking to you.
Brenda: We followed your work for a long time and Júlia does great investigative reporting and think pieces on the subject of women's football. Now, I wanted to ask you a couple things. First of all, I wanted to just start out. You're a young, Brazilian woman of color working right now in Bolsonaro’s Brazil, working in sports. How is that? What is that like?
Júlia: I mean, it's really difficult here in Brazil for the situation of people of color, especially black people, is a little bit different than in the States. We learn how to... We've been getting not a lot of access but some access to universities, to better jobs by affirmative actions and things like that from previous governments, not this one. Especially not this one.
But, I didn't have that kind of help. My family's almost middle class family, I studied in private school so when I went to university, was natural for me to try to find something that I really enjoyed rather than something that would be easier to work with or something that would get me to the work market in less time.
I started studying journalism, I studied in England with a Chevening scholarship and when I returned to Brazil, I wanted to specialize in women's sports because it's really important to me that we don't see a lot of coverage, we don't see a lot of people talking about it and we don't see a lot of women in the newsrooms. I moved from Salvador to São Paulo, studied a little bit more and just went from there.
Brenda: We have a problem with diversity in sports media here in the U.S., a really big problem. First, obviously, overwhelmingly male and overwhelmingly about male sports and then also overwhelmingly white. Is the situation similar in Brazil?
Júlia: Yes, the black people usually appear in stories when they are the athletes. Almost no variety. Women as well. We have some newsrooms that are a little bit more diverse, but among reporters, not among editors, not among people who write the things that are going to be said and be done. Here in São Paulo, Salvador is the blackest city out of Africa.
It was really different for me to leave Salvador and come to São Paulo and understand this new environment where I'm the only black woman working with sports journalism in the whole newsroom and there's 200 journalists among all of them. It's really strange to be in that position, but it's something that I was expecting to happen and the more you advance, the less black people you are going to see, the less women you are going to see.
Women are usually thrown out of football and just cover other stuff. Go cover women's stuff, not football. Football is for the guys, it's for the men and they are the only ones who know about it.
Brenda: We saw during the Russian World Cup in 2018 and even after, we've seen many Brazilian women journalists actually assaulted on camera.
Júlia: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It's not a new thing, but it's a new thing that they organized a movement together on social media for the right to work.
Brenda: Yeah, just let them work, right?
Brenda: It looks like it can be a very hostile environment. Do you think there was any sort of increase in opportunities during the Women's World Cup this time around? Was it different than the last, than four years ago?
Júlia: It was amazing because we had so many women working with women's football and supporting women's football and making sure that it was well covered, that the stories were not only the basic ones, that people went after good stories. Some news rooms, media vehicles had a lot of difficulty with that and you didn't get to see that specialized coverage everywhere.
But here, especially in São Paulo, women's football is already getting stronger by the minute. We have a lot of independent media that already know how to talk about it, already know people, and we have some mainstream media that is trying to adapt to get into this circle.
Here in Brazil, it's still focused only in São Paulo, maybe Rio de Janeiro but it's spreading. It's spreading a little bit and it's nice to see this movement.
Brenda: Since the World Cup has ended and Brazil had a pretty disappointing exit from the tournament, for me anyway. Personally. It's all about me and my disappointment. But I don't think you or I or anyone that ever writes on Brazilian football was very surprised.
Júlia: Yeah, disappointing but not surprising because we knew Vadão wasn’t a great coach. We knew the situation that the girls were playing in. They had a little bit more structure than the last World Cup or than the previous ones but still, a really bad coach and really bad support from the federation, so we didn't have a lot of chances. We didn't have many chances compared to the United States or France or any other top ten national teams.
Brenda: Since then, fill us in on what's happening. What's happened since the end of the World Cup? Because there seems to be progress and frustration at the same time.
Júlia: Yes, we had... More than a month after the World Cup ended for Brazil, we still had the same coach. The federation was still trying to work out what they were going to do especially because people who enjoy football, play football knew that Vadão wasn't a good coach. He wasn't a good coach for men and people still threw him on a national team.
It's insane to think about it because any football in Brazil, no coach would survive nine losses. Nine. Still we needed to see some change and a lot of people were pressuring about it. It's been 15 days, how come Vadão is still the coach? The CBF, the Brazilian federation said that they were trying to work out the details with the new coach who they announced this week, last week was Pia Sundhage.
She already trained the United States, she has two Olympic medals, she's from Sweden. She come from an environment that women's football gets real attention, gets real support not only from the people but also from the federation, usually. Gets more support than here, so at the same time, do we fire Vadão? But we kept Marco Aurélio Cunha who is the coordinator of women's football.
Just to have an idea, the national team, the main national team had Vadão as a coach and the 20 and under 17 teams don't have technical commissions, don't have coaches for months. This coordinator still doesn't give the attention we deserve and the women in football deserve.
This movement was mainly in São Paulo but also spreads a little bit to the rest of the country. We had some parties in Manaus which is in the north of the country, of people who just turn on the TV, fire up the grill, and just watch the games. It was really, really fun but we need that kind of support to continue, to ask for more not only structure but also support, diversity and the respect that these players deserve.
Brenda: Do you think, Pia, people are pretty excited about her then? Is that a moment of celebration here?
Júlia: Yes. Yes, it is and it's amazing to see how the people, how the public has reacted to that because not only we were really happy that Vadão left but we also have this impression that something's changing. They're not going to bring this huge coach, this huge name in women's football if not to promote some changes.
It's really important that she has the time and the ability to work and the coordinator lets her work because she's going to do a great job.
Brenda: Júlia Belas Trindade, thank you so much for joining us at Burn It All Down. We love your work and again, listeners, you can follow her at Twitter @july_bt. Thank you, Júlia.
Júlia: Thank you for inviting me. Whenever you want, I'm here for you. I love Burn It All Down and just am a really huge Twitter fan of you guys. Kisses and hugs from Brazil to everyone who supports and loves women's football.
Brenda: July 25th started the Pan American/Para Pan Games in Lima, Peru and Burn It All Down is pretty psyched about it. Shireen, do you want to intro us into this event?
Shireen: Sure, thanks. As Bren said, from July 26th to Sunday, July August, the Pan American Games and right after that, the Para Pan Games will be happening and now this is a really interesting time in sport because a lot of 23 of the categories in the Pan Am Games will actually be qualifiers for Tokyo 2020. Burn It All Down has a lot of feelings about Olympic games and different places, but for a lot of amateur athletes, this is a place where they can showcase again.
As of right now, the medal standings are really interesting and I appreciate this because right now, we're recording Sunday morning. Mexico is at the top of the list and I find that really fun because who doesn't love someone beating the United States? And their medal count is at 13 right now. Mexico is and third is actually Peru, followed by Peru, Argentina, Cuba, Colombia. I'm just going to go down really fast. The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, then Canada, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Chile.
Those are the medal standings for that. Those are obviously not all of the countries participating but just in terms of who's ranked where. We're in the very, very early stages of the games, so this could shift dramatically. Like I said, these are for amateur athletes because the three on three basketball, United States is slated to win the women's division.
You're thinking, "Wait a minute. This is the same time as the WNBA." Yes, because this is, like I said, for amateur athletes and Sabrina Ionescu is actually on that team which is pretty exciting because she's going back to Oregon and going to be playing there. Still qualifies as what we know as an amateur athlete.
The rules around this are not fixed, from what I understand, about it being an amateur athlete because there are some exceptions because there's always exceptions whenever there's games. Like quote unquote "exceptions". I just also find it really, really interesting. Today is the day of celebration national day in Peru and this is coinciding with the games and I think it's really fun.
I'm getting a lot of information about this as well as our friend of the show, Luis Miguel, who is awesome. He's a writer and presenter at Sports Illustrated and he's very excited about soccer in Peru, football in Peru, women and women's football and what that looks like and how this is affecting lots of things.
We will mention this later in the show, but the marathon winner for the women's competition was actually a Peruvian and it was a really big deal, the gold medal winner. Anyway I think that it's very powerful to be in your hometown and to be watching. Her name is Gladys Tejeda and she won and it was just fans around her.
When you think of marathon runners, you don't automatically think of Peru and this is something that I think is pretty valuable in the Pan American Games because it showcases the talents of athletes in sports where they don't traditionally get on the podium at the Olympics or worldwide competitions. These competitions are all actually really, really beneficial and it helps amplify sports might not be amplified in those places.
There's that. There's so many different competitions happening and like I said, I think it's everything from they have artistic swimming which I really like. We know that synchronized swimming was taken out of the Olympics as a category and just to see it here is great. They have Basque pelota which is different than... Is it futsal, Brenda?
Brenda: No, it's a different sport. The Spanish game you mean?
Brenda: Yeah, it's a different sport.
Shireen: I didn't even know what that was, so I'm sort of excited that's happening. They have BMX cycling. I just really, really appreciate this stuff. Some type of sports that aren't recognized are there and I just think that this kind of stuff is really important. They don't only have things that are specific or non-traditional in the Olympic realm but like I said, it's an important place.
Whether it benefits financially and economically, I don't know. I know that a lot of money was actually poured into the Olympics. This sporting event actually has a $1.2 billion price tag, which is a lot actually, and there'll be almost 5000 medals awarded across the Pan Am and Para Pan Am games this time. I'm getting my information from a really, really detailed Reuters article on this that we can link in the show notes.
But I think this is good because Peru is hoping to actually come out with a really good medal hall and I just think that's important. Their best presentation and their best finishing came... The Pan Am games were in Toronto four years ago and I remember this very well because I remember because the traffic in the city was horrendous.
There are situations like that as well in Lima where traffic and getting from one site to another has proved to be extremely problematic as it is in cities where these kinds of events actually happen. I think that Peru is really trying, and this article highlights that they're ready to step up and join Brazil and Argentina as sort of South America's premiere sporting nation, one of them.
If that can benefit and if that can be equally translated to women and supporting them, that would be great. I did not see the parade as it started, the opening ceremonies, but I heard it was a totally lit party.
Brenda: I'm sure it is. I mean, Lima's amazing. It's a really interesting, labyrinth-like city. For anyone who's not been there, it's complicated and messy and beautiful. I have written on the history of the Pan American Games and just want to make one quick point which is one of the things that's most interesting about the Pan American games is basically people in the U.S. don't give a shit. Most major athletes in any U.S. sport will forgo the games to do something else.
That's very telling. That's about how people in the U.S. don't give a shit about their neighbors and it was always conceived of from the beginning as a Latin American thing. Even in 1951 when Perón is hosting, he's very clear that if the U.S. doesn't participate, he doesn't really mind one way or another. This is a time in his presidency when he's interested in forging relationships with Mexico.
He is interested in South-South relationships and I think that it's really interesting that even post-Cold War, it's always been that thing where it's sort of just a giant metaphor for how the U.S. just doesn't care about Latin America or Canada.
I feel like that has just even maybe become more apparent in these years where it's just like, "Meh", right? I find that really disappointing. One of the things is that... One of the interesting things also about the Pan American Games is that it's always been a showcase for women.
Amira: Right. That’s what I was about to say.
Brenda: In 1951, Eva Perón is really interested in fostering women's participation. No one knows why there are so many women's sports required of the Pan American Games. I've looked through all the meeting minutes, it's not clear to me why but for whatever historical circumstance, there's a bunch of events like women's diving that people in Latin America were like, "What?"
Literally the Guatemalan Olympic Committee was putting out calls in newspapers that were like, "Are there any women divers?" Of course, there are but these are patriarchal dudes. They're like, "Hello!". It's been very important for Latin Americans, it's been very important for women and I feel like the more important it's been for Latin Americans and women, the less that the U.S. has cared about it. I don't know. Amira, do you want to chime in here?
Amira: Yeah, I was just going to say that the women piece was huge, especially for women I studied. Black American girls in track and field, Pan Am Games have always been vitally important. They are next to the Olympics, the biggest export, the biggest competition, the biggest opportunity.
From the '50s on, a lot of the women that I study, that is a space in which they can get discovered. For instance, the Pan Am Games put athletes on the radar of coach Ed Temple who was then able to offer scholarships to women like Carlota Gooden from Panama, women from other parts of the Caribbean who came to Tennessee State on athletic scholarships to run track at the elite programs.
It showcased people to get jobs in physical education as lower level coaches or scholarship recipients in other spaces. It had multiple importance and I would like to draw a line from that to now because actually, at the u-20 Pan American Games, one of my former students just this weekend set a new record with her four by four team and also brought home a silver medal in the 400.
Shout out to Alexis Holmes. She is amazing and it just reminded me of the opportunity that a lot of black girls have used the Pan Am Games for to showcase their talent and represent their country even if their country is barely looking.
Brenda: Now it's time for everybody's favorite part of the show where we take everything that has sucked in sports for this week and throw it on the proverbial burn pile. Shireen, what've you got?
Shireen: I actually know that I was very excited, all our listeners know I was very excited about AfCon and Algeria won and they beat Senegal 1-0. I love Sadio Mané of Senegal, I think he's a beautiful player. He plays for Liverpool, and I just followed the joy. I kept seeing positive things being written which is great.
I did actually get messaged by a good friend of mine who had seen a lot of very, very horrible videos just before the final and they were absolutely steeped in anti-blackness. A lot of that rhetoric came out before the final when it was Algeria which is a North African country and is historically full of Afro-Arabs. This is what also confuses me, plus there are Afro-Arab players on Algeria.
Just the fact that this type of conversation is considered very normal and yes, the Arabic and the French translations, I'm not very, very familiar with that particular dialect but it's pretty clear when you're using the n-word and what that looks like in Arabic or in French.
I'm not going to repeat it, but I think that the video being posted by people that use fandom as a way to carry their racism is absolutely unacceptable. This isn't just a situation where these are Muslim majority countries and racism isn't permissible in Islam. That's not what I'm talking about. Racism isn't permissible in most organized religions.
But what I'm talking about is the fact that this type of conversation doesn't happen and I haven't seen major outlets talk about it and I actually had contacted a friend of mine Maher Mizahi who is an Algerian football writer and he provided a lot of insight to this because I was trying to dig around to find out what was going on.
He said, A) it's not specific to the final. This had been happening through the entire tournament, and he says there are people that just singularly go out and they put stuff on Snapchat and Insta stories and it goes viral. I think it should go viral, because having conversations about it and talking about it is really, really important.
I think that there is a little bit of a, not necessarily a disinterest, but just sort of a lack of understanding and a nuance for English speaking outlets to actually cover this and I don't always think that's a bad thing because I really don't... I'm not super comfortable and don't have a lot of faith in white football journalists talking about anti-blackness within this context because they don't know how and it gets marred.
That's what I feel about it and I did want to say that there was... I can't have this burn without mentioning Mamoudou Barry who was a Guinean Ph.D student who was run over and it was reported initially that he was run over by Algerian supporters, even though he's actually not from Senegal. He's from Guinea. He was from Guinea and he had a young child and a wife and was a Ph.D student in Rouen in France.
Just sort of how this trickles into racism within France and anti-blackness within the diaspora communities also is very, very complicated. Then it was actually reported that it was a white supremacist that might have hit him but it was used as, "Look at the anti-blackness in this community." So, the whole thing is really, really complicated and my only solution to this is for people to actually not be assholes and not be racist. That would be great and let everybody enjoy…
I love that Algeria won, I would've been thrilled if Senegal won but this type of conversation and this type of action in football, there's no place for it and I absolutely hate it and I think it's really important for Muslims around the world and people from that region in North Africa to actually start talking about it more. And I want to burn that.
Shireen: Burn that.
Amira: Yeah. Shouts to Shireen for sending me more things to burn. I want to burn today this ridiculous piece that somebody wrote in defense of the podium girls at the Tour de France. Essentially, there was a movement, there was a protest, there was a petition to do away with the podium girls who, we all know them in multiple sports, who give the flowers and then the medals and whatever to the victors on the podium, whether it's Nascar, or cycling, whatever.
The petition basically said listen, women are not objects, they're not prizes that you get for winning something. They should be on the podium as sports people and not as dressing to your victory. This person took umbrage to that and basically penned this entire piece that said "radical feminism is ruining sports" because how dare you replace the podium girls…
I agree with the point that this is work, so if people are getting paid for that, that's their choice. It's not a direct attack on them. But he is so upset because his precious sport might not have podium girls. He talked about how being a podium girl is not just maintaining their looks, but it includes having a lot of endurance and linguistic ability and then beyond that, he said... I want to just read you this one quote.
"So, yes, podium girls have to look good but the climax of celebrations for winning one of the most grueling physical tests of endurance on Earth, it would be laughable for a tremendous physical specimen who's devoted hours to whipping their body into shape to be presented with their reward by someone who couldn't be bothered to put on a bit of makeup."
Amira: This might seem like a throwaway matter, but this is... Yes. If you didn't know, radical feminism is ruining sport but also how dare you? You can't function in sport without the window dressing of scantily clad women? To me, just points out how much modern sport and its historical roots been tied to the spectacle. That spectacle is provided by this aesthetic, this curation of beautiful women-
Brenda: White women.
Amira: Yeah, with little clothing who are literally acting the part of the trophy wife or the other prize. To me, it's just a larger indictment to what we've come to be so accustomed to in sports that a little change like this feels like it's threatening the entire system, the entire game itself when in general, it's not.
The Tour de France will go on no matter who gives the person their winnings. So, I just want to burn down whatever that was. I just want to burn it. Burn.
Brenda: Burn. My burn this week comes from a sports club in Recife, Brazil, Recife in Pernambuco, who fired one of its very poorly paid players for complaining about the conditions of training for soccer, women's soccer there. Pernambuco may seem like a far flung place for people in the U.S. but it is actually a really important state in Brazil and has a long tradition of soccer.
The picture which was posted by the interviewee for this week, Júlia Belas, is literally of women trying to play soccer in knee high grass. They're literally trying to pass the ball in fields of knee high grass and when they complained about it they were fired. Of course, they never made a living wage anyway but to add whatever to whatever, here they were running through and trying to pass a soccer ball in those conditions and then there was all of this backlash that came at one of the players.
It's hard to even find out information about this unless you're really looking. I don't even know how much it's in the public's attention but Júlia Belas and other Brazilian reporters have been on this and it's just unbelievable to have the material evidence in front of you of how little they care about the women that play for them. So, I just want to burn that.
Brenda: After all that burning, it's time to celebrate some incredible accomplishments of women in sport this week. In our Badass Woman of the Week segment, the honorable mentions goes to Portland Thorns which drew 22,329 people to Providence Park Stadium, the highest ever in history to watch them play earlier this week and they welcomed back World Cup champions Lindsay Horan, Tobin Heath, Adrianna Franch, and Emily Sonnett.
Gladys Tejeda of Peru won gold at the Pan Am Games in the marathon competition. Dutee Chand was named one of India's most influential people by India Today Magazine. Erica Wheeler of the Indiana Fever was the WNBA All Star MVP and Brittney Griner was the first WNBA player to have multiple dunks during the All Star game.
Can I get a drum roll, please? The badass woman of the week is Allyson Felix who raced her first race since a harrowing premature birth and months of her daughter in NICU. She made the finals and placed sixth at U.S. Track Championships. Congratulations, you are truly a badass.
So, what’s good in our weeks? Shireen.
Shireen: I'm very excited about Vandy. Those of y'all that don't know, Burn It All Down will be on the road at Vanderbilt University. We will be attending the Amend conference which is going to be amazing and co-sponsored by the YMCA there. Is it the YWCA or the YMCA?
Amira: It's the YW.
Shireen: Oh, the YWCA. I just love seeing my crew in person and it's going to be really fun and I have musings about a cowboy hat. I'm just figuring out how to do my hijab with it but I'm sure there's a tutorial online somewhere. In terms of what's good, I went to the dump yesterday. I'm moving and that's so stressful, but I love the dump and the recycling center.
I get lot of joy from going there. In my brain, going to the dump is the perfect date. You get something done, it's not the most laborious thing. It is but it's really fun. I can tell by the silence of Brenda and Amira, they're like, "What is she talking about?" I just really enjoy it. I don't know why. I always have. There's very interesting people there, they're just getting stuff done and there's also this freeing thing if you're getting rid of stuff and they also have a Goodwill depository that you can go and donate, a donation center, which I find really, really helpful as well.
Anyways, I'm enjoying that. Also, the Emirates Cup is on right now, the football cup and it's a tournament that is comprised of Arsenal Women, Bayern-Munich Women, and Lyon. It's just a really fun, quick thing. It's a tournament just to keep interest alive in the summer and I do like it. It's a very, very tiny champs league kind of competition and I like that because it's cross league.
You've got the French, the Germans, and the British. It sounds like some historical weird thing but it's not. It's a really fun thing and I love getting a chance to see the players that we've fawned over during the Women's World Cup to be featured again and I'm excited for that.
Brenda: Yay. Amira?
Amira: Two things. One, on Friday I went to a very special event here downtown State College at this place called Three Dots which is this community space. We had a celebration of Black music with Soul Space, which is a collection of Black women who sing soul and blues and R&B. A few of my friends sing with them and it was just a wonderful time to have that space in the middle of central PA where we saw great performances from Soul Space to Bubblegum Soul which is a collective of three sisters who are tiny little things who sing. It's so cute.
My student Gabe Green who is a poet and a musician went up the stage. There was dancing, there was a DJ, there was great food and great drinks and it was just wonderful, so that was much needed. Also, I got to see Brenda last week, so that was my what's good from last week even though I wasn't on.
I saw her and her adorable kids. I just love them so much. That was fantabulous. Also, Samari has been gone for a week at sleepaway camp, but since this is the one week they force them to write letters home and even though it reads a little bit like a hostage letter because they don't want to write home at all, I haven't heard from her in a week, so knowing that I will have to get an email letter today makes me very happy and I will see my baby girl this time next week. She'll be home.
Brenda: Aw, so cute. Last week, my what's good was meeting Amira's kids, who I've met before but every time is special. For this week what's good, and I just want to shout out all the parents who feel... I know you're both part of this, who feel that summer is both expensive and hard if you're trying to work through it.
Amira: Work. What is that?
Shireen: In the summer? What?
Brenda: Yeah. It's just really... I love spending time with my kids. My youngest one and I have had a great bond this summer, but Jesus Christ. It is so expensive and kids are ready to kill each other and we still have five weeks left of summer. I love every minute of it and simultaneously hate every minute of it.
I just want to say what's good this week is that all three of my kids have something to do everyday. There is a structure. This is the one week where they all have extended camps and I hope they enjoy them and appreciate the fact that I'm going broke to provide that. I'll miss them terribly. That's my what's good.
That's it for this week and Burn It All Down. Remember to burn on but to out. Though we're done for now, remember that you can always burn day and night with our fabulous array of merch including mugs, pillows, tees, hoodies, bags, and beach towels. Burn It All Down lives on Soundcloud but can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, and Tune In. We really appreciate your reviews and feedback.
You can find us on Facebook and Instagram at Burn It All Down Pod and on Twitter at @burnitdownpod. You can email us at email@example.com. Check out our website, www.burnitalldownpod.com where you will find previous episodes, transcripts, and link to our Patreon.
Once more, we'd like to extend our undying gratitude to all of our patrons who have supported us in that ongoing campaign and it allows us to keep doing this show every week.