2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials - Day 2

Source: Andy Lyons / Getty

Sha’Carri Richardson has always brimmed with confidence and shown the world know that – going as far back as her first place finish in the 100m dash at the 2016 AAU Junior Olympics – she’s “that girl.” But the American track star and former Olympic hopeful has also rubbed some people the wrong way with her bold attitude.

In classic Sha’Carri fashion, though, she didn’t shy from the fact that much of the perception of her is less tied to what she’s actually done and tied more to how she looks.

“If you take away the ‘Black’ in front of the ‘woman’ and another woman reacts the same way,” she told Teen Vogue‘s Sade Green, “it’s not considered as ‘sassy,’…[or] ‘aggressive.’” Richardson then went on to cite Malcolm X’s statement that “the most disrespected person in the United States is [the] Black woman.”

When it comes to the disrespect of Black women, Richardson cannot help but be linked with Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva. Richardson was suspended for using marijuana to cope with her mother’s death, but the suspension ended her dreams of competing at the 2020 Tokyo Games, and she was publicly mocked by some outlets as a result. By contrast, Valieva was found to have at least three performance enhancing drugs in her system but allowed to participate in the 2022 Beijing Games, a decision that received outrage from the sports world.

“Can we get a solid answer on the difference of her situation and mines,” Richardson tweeted shortly after the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared Valieva for competition. She then added, “The only difference I see is I’m a Black young lady.”

“When I’m off the track, I experience things just like … any other woman, any other Black person would experience,” she told Green directly. “The fact that I say that I’m Black before an athlete, I really stand on that,” Richardson later said.

But when Teen Vogue specifically asked her about the Valieva ordeal, Richardson was much more artful with her response. First, she told the mag there was nothing more to say about it, referring them to her tweets. But, she then reflected upon her own disqualification and how she’s moving past it.

“How I show myself forgiveness is honestly by acknowledging it first, acknowledging the situation for what it is, acknowledging my responsibilities in it, and talking about it to the people I feel like it impacted besides myself,” the 21-year-old speedster said.

“When I had the entire situation of being banned from the Tokyo Games, the people who I talked to first were the people who I felt like were with me the most on the journey. I apologized to them first,” she admitted. “I felt like they had to hold my shame as well, in a way — or my guilt, in a way.”

Check out what else Richardson has to say about how her grandmother and mother (who is actually her aunt) influenced the superstar’s love of running, her life beyond the race track, and what fans should expect by clicking here.