12-Year-Old Swimmer Nearly Disqualified After Wearing Black Lives Matter Swimsuit
"This is a humanitarian issue. It's not political," Classie Dudley, Duluth Chapter's NAACP President said.
February 09, 2022 at 4:14 pm
Leidy Gallona—a 12-year-old—was nearly disqualified from a swim meet over the weekend after wearing a Black Lives Matter (BLM) swimsuit.
After 22-year-old Amir Locke was shot and killed by Minneapolis police last wéek, Sarah Lyons, Gallona's mother, explains that Leidy was inspired to design the BLM swimsuit. In addition, the Black Lives Matter movement is important to her as a woman of color.
"She is very passionate about social justice. She has been through a lot already at a young age," Lyons said. "It's a big part of her which I think is wild at 12."
The Wisconsin swim meet, held at Superior High School, was hosted by the YMCA on Sunday. During the meet, an official called Leidy over and told the young swimmer that she was at risk of disqualification because her suit was against policy.
A representative of the Duluth YMCA stated that the official's action was inappropriate.
"An independent volunteer official inappropriately barred a student-athlete from taking part in the meet, due to their 'Black Lives Matter' swimsuit," the representative said. "stating that it 'went against USA Swimming's policy of no political language."
After Leidy refused to remove her swimsuit, Lyons called for additional help from their local NAACP chapter. According to the NAACP president, Duluth branch, Classie Dudley, Gallona's move was a human right move and not political.
"This is a humanitarian issue. It's not political," Dudley said. "It's human. It's humanizing something."
Leidy was able to compete in her Black Lives Matter suit in the end, but those who were there to support her said that this incident shed light on a significant problem in the community.
On Sunday, the Duluth YMCA released a statement stating its commitment to being an anti-racist organization and educating itself concerning diversity and inclusion.
"The Duluth Area Family YMCA is committed to being an anti-racist organization and stands with BIPOC communities throughout the Northland and throughout our country. We know that Black Lives Matter, and we will continue to work to educate ourselves, to stand against inequality, and to strive to be active allies in the ongoing fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion."
Duluth YMCA leaders, who sponsored the race, overturned Leidy's disqualification and banned the official from future YMCA meets in Duluth, Wisconsin.