Monday, April 21, 2008

The Aftermath by Nicole Morales

After Smith had set a world record in the games, his explanation of why he and Carlos had taken the stand on the Olympic medal stand was, “If I win, I am an American, not a black American… But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.”

After the Black Power Salute of the Olympics, Smith’s family also endured issues. They had a rock thrown through their house window. Both Smith and Carlos’ families reportedly received death threats.

Peter Norman, the then 26 year-old Australian Olympic team member was a PE teacher who is said to have been responsible for the lopsided look on the podium during the protest. It was reported that Carlos forgot his pair of black gloves, but Norman suggested that they share Smith’s pair. This led to the U.S. team members holding up one right and one left arm each on the podium. Norman was heavily ostracized in his native country due to his involvement in the protest. While he didn’t physically protest in this silent attempt, he did wear the patch for the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). In an attempt to show solidarity on the stand during the silent protest, Norman, who hadn’t had on the OPHR patch on initially, ran into the stand to grab a patch off of a supporter to wear on the medal stand.

Later, the Los Angeles Times described the salute by Carlos and Smith as a “Nazi-like support”. Time magazine also ran a picture of the Olympic symbol which has a motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger” and they replaced the motto on the symbol with the words “Angrier, Nastier, Uglier”. The magazine article even called their protest “petty”. These two reports were evidence that the silent protest was not viewed by the media as appropriate for the event, even if the attention was much needed.

Many U.S. athletes, especially African Americans were very upset by the decision of the Olympic Committee to expel Carlos and Smith from the games. Some expressed support for actions. Mohammed Ali described the event as "the single most courageous act of this century.” And Wyomia Tyus, anchor of the U.S. women's gold-medal winning 4x100 meter relay team, dedicated the team's victory to Smith and Carlos.

On the other end of the scale, what was described as the harshest rebuke came from their fellow Olympian George Foreman, who upon winning the gold medal, waived a miniature American flag and bowed to the Mexico City audience. This act was viewed as opposition and unsupportive of the actions of Smith and Carlos.

No comments: