A young Black girl’s family spoke out after footage of a presenter snubbing the lassie during a medal ceremony at a 2022 gymnastics event in Ireland went viral on Friday, Sept. 22.
According to the Irish Independent, the incident occurred at a Gymnastics Ireland event at the National Indoor Arena in Dublin in March 2022. The outlet interviewed the girl’s mother the same year as the video. She stated they were outraged about how Gymnastics Ireland treated their daughter and firmly believed they ignored her because she was Black.
A year later, the unnamed girl’s family is working to get the video removed online. The mother contacted gardaí about removing the tape from social media sites, afraid her family would face racial abuse.
“We are often the only Black family at gymnastics events, and this has been very hurtful for us,” the mother said. “Now, eight million people have seen the video.”
In the viral clip, a row of majority white girls happily accepted a gold medal around their necks. Standing in the center is a Black girl without a medal, while everyone to her left has theirs.
Welcome to Ireland where people get away with racism! This little black girl broke my heart. Don’t skip this post without leaving a million heart for her. Make her famous… pic.twitter.com/YYMIP1IALZ
— Mohamad Safa (@mhdksafa) September 22, 2023
The woman continued distributing the awards to those to the right of the Black girl, and in the entire video, the presenter doesn’t approach the Black child to correct her mistake, even after passing by once.
The video sparked outrage then and now.
Gymnastics Ireland released a statement claiming that the incident happened “over 18 months ago” and that they “contacted the family to express concern and reassure them that the matter was being investigated.”
The statement said, “A written apology provided by the identified individual has since been issued to the competitor and her family.”
However, the girl’s mother argued the apology letter lacked sincerity and failed to address her daughter by name. “To whom it concerns,” the letter began.
“From Pakistan to Ethiopia, they can see this was wrong, but Gymnastics Ireland still can’t accept it and say sorry.”
The mom took the matter to the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation in Switzerland.
Olympic gold medallist and fellow gymnast Simone Biles reacted to the video on X, writing, “It broke my heart to see, so I sent her a little video. There is no room for racism in any sport or at all!!!”
when this video was circulating, her parents reached out. It broke my heart to see, so I sent her a little video
there is no room for racism in any sport or at all !!!!
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) September 23, 2023
According to the outlet, family friends got Biles to encourage the youngling via a video message, causing the young fan to burst into tears and scream.
“I wanted to let you know that I saw how you were treated at your GymStart event recently,” Biles stated in the video. “I was completely shocked and wanted to let you know that you deserve a medal just like all of the other girls. I know you’ve worked incredibly hard at the sport, and I wanted to say I am rooting for you from here. Sending you my very best, and know that there are so many of us here to support you.”