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White Cheerleaders Black Athletes

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Cheerleadingteam activity in which elements of dance and acrobatics are combined with shouted slogans in order to entertain spectators at sporting events and to encourage louder and more enthusiastic cheering. Once exclusively a sideline activity geared toward supporting school sportscheerleading has gained recognition as a sport in its own right and often operates outside the school context altogether. Cheerleading has long been considered an iconic American activity symbolizing school spirit, leadership, youthfulness, and sex appeal. The southern United States including Texas is usually considered the heart of modern cheerleading, although the activity is well established throughout the United States as well as abroad, having gained a foothold in countries around the world. Although cheerleading is today predominantly associated with femininity, the original cheerleaders were men.

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Cheerleading, since its conception, has been a predominantly white sport and while there have been steps made towards diversifying, there are still ificantly less Black and African American women than white women involved in the sport. In the wake of the desegregation of schools, Black young women were fighting for and being denied acceptance onto cheerleading teams.

Kennedy Providence, who is on the cheerleading team for the University of Toronto, recalls a time where she was reprimanded for her natural hair.

She went on to explain her own method for choosing which cheerleaders make the team, beyond their looks. The struggle for Black and African American women in the cheerleading world dates back to as early as the s. Even now, decades later, Black women are still fighting for spots on cheerleading teams.

There exists an undeniable disparity in the rate of Black women in the cheerleading world as compared to white women. They have no choice but to compare themselves to their white teammates with naturally long and straight hair and are left struggling to figure out ways to make their hair appropriate for competitions, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it might be.

According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in SportNFL teams are 70 percent people of colour, but the diversity really ends there. Niemah Young, an year-old on the Diamond Elite All-Star Cheerleading team in Colorado, was not allowed to compete with her team after her coach said that she could not perform with her natural hair.

Providence agrees with the sentiment that Black young women are still struggling to make it onto squ. The Eurocentric beauty standards of the cheerleading world makes it hard for Black and African American women to express themselves naturally, this is especially true when it comes to their hair.

Not only do Black athletes struggle to be a part of the cheerleading world, but Black women and men also struggle to find jobs as directors and coaches of cheerleading teams.

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The team manager for my high school team had told us that the hairstyle would be a high ponytail with a bump. By not allowing Black or African American young women to wear their hair naturally during practices or for competitions, they are led to believe that something is wrong with their natural hair.

That was the last time I ever wore my hair naturally for a competition. Sadly, Providence is only one of the many Black or African American cheerleaders who has experienced discrimination for her natural hair.

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Members of the P. Niemah had been using a hair piece for the entire season, but it eventually became too painful for her and when she tried to wear her hair in a natural style she was dismissed from the team. When I look at the Board of Directors of the U. Alfaro, as a woman of colour, argued that if there were more people of colour in directing or coaching roles in the cheerleading world then there would be more room for diversity and less of a chance of a disproportionate of white women would be accepted over Black women.

Team directors often have the last say when it comes to hiring or accepting cheerleaders for their teams.

This does not leave enough space for diversity in the cheerleading world. According to a nonscientific survey conducted by Mhkeeba Pate, a former Seattle Seahawks cheerleader, only about 17 percent of NFL cheerleaders are Black. We accept members who show skill and promise, regardless of what they look like.