Gwen Berry, an American Olympic hammer thrower who has been criticized for her demonstration during the national anthem during track and field trials has dismissed claims that she hates the country she represents.
Berry finished in third place in the trials and arranged for the team to travel to Tokyo next month for the coronavirus-delayed Olympics. But she drew attention in a negative way when she turned away from the flag as the national anthem blared and later covered her face in a shirt that read “Activist Athlete”.
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Amidst scrutiny and loud claims that she shouldn’t represent the United States at the Games, Berry hit back in an interview with the Black news channel Tuesday.
“I never said I didn’t want to go to the Olympics which is why I competed and I finished third and was part of the team,” Berry said.
“I never said I hated the country. I never said that. All I said was that I respect my people enough not to stand up for or recognize something they lack. respect. I love my people. Point blank, period. “
Berry said she specifically had an issue with a line in “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which she said refers to the capture and beating of slaves.
GWEN BERRY, OLYMPIAN FROM THE UNITED STATES SNUBBING, SPONSORED BY ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’ LAWYERS
The third stanza of playing songs: “And where is this band that swore with such pride, That the ravages of war and the confusion of battle. A house and a Country must never leave us? Their blood has washed the pollution of their filthy footsteps No refuge could save the mercenary and slave From the terror of theft or the darkness of the grave, And the star-spangled banner floats in triumph Over the land of the free and the house of the brave.
Berry said: “If you know your story, you know the full song of the national anthem, the third paragraph speaks to slaves in America, our blood is being slaughtered… all over the floor. It’s disrespectful and it doesn’t speak for Black Americans It’s obvious, there’s no doubt.
According to Stevenson University, a debate raged on the meaning of the line “mercenary and slave” and whether it has outright racist tones or a “rhetorical tool”.
This is not the first time Berry has protested at the Team USA events.
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Earlier in the week, she raised her fist in protest before an event. She also raised her fist during the national anthem after winning gold at the 2019 Pan Am Games.