Saunders, representing ‘the oppressed people,’ twerks on-field at the Olympics
U.S. shot putter, and activist Raven Saunders turned her backside to the camera and twerked after completing her last throw of the Toyko Games this week.
Saunders, 25, nicknamed “The Hulk,” made headlines earlier in the Olympics for engaging in protest on behalf of “the oppressed people” when she held her arms in an ‘X’ over her head during the national anthem. On Sunday, she celebrated her last throw by twerking on the field.
Saunders is a lesbian who has spoken out on behalf of the LGBTQ community and has been open about her own issues with mental health, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
“I’m a black female, I’m queer and I talk about mental health awareness — I deal with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, a lot — so for me personally, I represent being at that intersection,” she said.
“I decided to use my platform to speak up for all those people, for anyone who represents any part of or any one of those groups, especially, this medals is for [them],” she continued.
“Shout out to all my Black people. Shout out to all my LGBTQ community. Shout out to all my people dealing with mental health.”
NBC quickly panned away from Saunders, but reactions to her display were varied.
“Raven Saunders twerk just saved my life,” said one Twitter user.
“There is truly nothing like Black Joy cause after enduring 40deg heat and still winning silver medal #RavenSaunders is breathing life into the #OlympicGames with her flair, the epic hair flip and the legendary twerk seen across the world #theywerentready #ToykoOlympics #YessSis,” someone else tweeted.
“She didn’t seemed[sic] too oppressed when she was twerking and the camera had to quickly pan away! lol,” someone observed.
“How embarrassing. Act like you have been there before and not so childish. At least have some dignity for yourself if not for your country. I would like to see how many other athletes from other countries do that?” someone else observed.
Although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has banned protests on the podium, it does allow for some social justice expressions while speaking to the press and while on the field as long as those expressions are not disruptive or offensive.
The IOC is reviewing the “X” gesture Saunders made on the podium when she took silver, according to IOC spokesperson Mark Adams. If the gesture is determined to violate the Olympic rules, further action will be taken.
They have offered no comment on whether they are looking into the on-field twerking incident and did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
“Let them try and take this medal. I’m running across the border even though I can’t swim,” Saunders tweeted in defiance.