A Colorado Rams basketball player warms up wearing a Black...

Source: SOPA Images / Getty

This past Sunday, 12-year-old Leidy Lyons was about to participate in a Minnesota swim meet when she was nearly disqualified for her “Black Lives Matter” swimsuit. The preteen wore the one-piece to a Duluth Area Family YMCA event being held in the adjacent state of Wisconsin, and her gear was in protest of Amir Locke‘s killing by the Minneapolis Police Department. A YMCA rep nearly had Lyons barred from the event until another association rep overturned the action.

“[Leidy]is very passionate about social justice. She has been through a lot already at a young age,” her mother Sarah Lyons told KBJR. “It’s a big part of her which I think is wild at 12,” added Ms. Lyons. “[My daughter] said, ‘Mom, I’m not taking the suit off.’ And I said ‘You go girl!’ and ‘Okay.’”

One specific Duluth YMCA rep said the young girl would not be allowed to race that day, “stating that [her attire] ‘went against USA Swimming’s policy of no political language.” (The incident is reminiscent of 8-year-old Ben Stapleton and his 5-year-old brother being disciplined by their Ardmore, OK school for wearing “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts last year.)

Leidy’s mother immediately contacted the Duluth NAACP, who stepped in to back up the mother and daughter.

“This is a humanitarian issue. It’s not political. It’s human. It’s humanizing something,” said Classie Dudley, President of the Duluth Branch NAACP. “It’s important that when you see something, you have to say something. That same energy that the NAACP brought when we showed up to support Leidy is the same energy that the community should have had in that moment.”

At that moment, other Duluth YMCA officials reversed Leidy Lyons’ disqualification on the spot and allowed her to race. Instead, the branch said it would prohibit the unnamed rep from any future involvement with meets being held in Duluth. “There were 500 people in that room,” said the elder Lyons, “and nobody noticed what was going on. It is a really good example of what is actual allyship and what is performative allyship in those moments when people need you to stand up even if it’s not in your best interest.”

Later that day, the Duluth YMCA also issued a statement on social media saying it was “an anti-racist organization and stands with BIPOC communities throughout the Northland and throughout our country,” and they would “stand against inequality, and to strive to be active allies in the ongoing fight for diversity, equity and inclusion.”