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Marco Rogers @polotek
, 30 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
The big story on my TL is about the young wrestler who had to cut his hair. This is the response from the person who wrote the article and chose to frame it as "being a team player".
I have lots of thoughts about this and I've got some time. So you know the deal. Let's get into it.
First, I'm not surprised at the response from the journalist. He does a job. Part of it is writing "feel good" stories. Stories that are supposed to inspire people. When he saw this story, that's what he came away with. "People might be inspired by this".
But inspired by what exactly? It's worth unpacking why this was supposed to be inspiring. This story has a) sacrifice (haircut) that leads to b) triumph (he won the match, they won the tournament). That is the American inspiration story in a nutshell.
This story of "triumph requires sacrifice" is very common in sports. I got asked to cut my hair when I wanted to be on the college track team even before I tried out. I talked to a person who was interested and he immediately told me what the "sacrifice" would be.
Once we understand that this narrative of "triumph requires sacrifice" is both intentional and common, then we can come back to the lens of how white supremacy factors in.
So let's look at the "sacrifice". This young person was told that they had to cut their hair in order to compete. And they were forced to make a snap decision about it. Either debase and humiliate yourself, or "let your team down".
That's often the choice people are presented with. Especially in sports. Either protect your sense of self, or prioritize others by proving that you are willing to destroy yourself for their benefit.
That might seem like dramatic rhetoric. But if you think so then you don't understand anything about the relationship we have with our hair. The question of whether we have control over our own bodies is the most important thing in our history.
Then we can ask why the sacrifice was even demanded. This young person was already wearing a cap. He already understood that his hair was a potential issue for this venue. He had already taken reasonable steps to address it. He was told that wasn't enough.
Why wasn't it enough? The excuse we're presented with, and we're also asked to swallow, is this appeal to authority. The "rules" say so. The "rules" have determined that this person needs to submit to an impromptu haircut in front of hundreds of people. Bullshit.
The rules say no such thing. I'm sure the rules say "hair pulling is illegal". The rules may also say "loose clothing or hair is not allowed". Even without reading them, I'm positive the rules do not say "caps aren't enough, you must cut your hair".
What actually happened is that someone was put into a position to be both I interpreter and enforcer of the rules. The referee. That's how this works. There is no magic. The rules don't mean anything without someone being given power to make them reality.
From there we see the beginnings of the problem. This referee has a certain amount of leeway. He can use his judgment. And remember, he gets to both *interpret and enforce* the rules. That is the power he is given. At least in the moment when a match is happening.
It was this person who actually decided to interpret the rules as "caps aren't good enough". This person then proceeded to enforce that ruling by saying "the only way you can compete is to cut your hair".
That is what happened. No rules. No magic. A human being made a decision from a position of power that impacted another human being. That's it. That's the whole game. From a referee at a wrestling match to the President of the United States.
You might be asking yourself "but then how is it systemic"? I'm glad you asked. Because we get to unpack what systemic means. It's easy to interpret "systemic" in a similar way to "the rules". Like it's some objective force outside of ourselves. Not so.
The system at play is also just humans. Some humans are responsible for writing down the rules of wrestling matches. Some humans are responsible for appointing referees. Some humans decide what leeway the referee has in ruling.
All of these humans are complicit in giving this referee the power to humiliate this young man. They all contributed to putting this young man on a path where he had to decide his body was less valuable than their entertainment.
These same humans will decide again whether this is the way they want it. By keeping the rules the same. By keeping the referee in his position. And they might do it without ever needing to talk to the young man who is impacted. Some of them won't even hear about this.
That's why it's systemic. Because most of the humans in the system aren't held accountable when people are impacted. And those impacted have no ability to address all humans who are responsible. The system has barriers built in so it cannot self-adjust in order to reduce harm.
That brings us back to the most insidious part of things. And it requires us to zoom out just a bit more. To the journalist who wrote about this. He looked at it from the outside and decided there was no harm being done.
The person who wrote this story is also a human who made a choice in this system. He looked at this and didn't see harm. He saw the narrative he's been conditioned to look for. "Sacrifice" leading to "triumph". And he dutifully perpetuated that narrative.
His role is ensure that this remains "normal". His role is to tell the story that this is how we should want things to be. That we should feel good about this. That this will happen again. Because this is what is *required* for us to "win". Whatever the fuck winning means.
So you can scroll all the way back up and read his statement again. And you'll see all the hallmarks.

"I understand people are mad. But what do you want from me? I have no power in this system. I'm just the guy who documents things."
So finally, we can answer the burning question. Why is this racist? Now that we know that this system, like all of them, is just humans making decisions. We can ask ourselves what kind of decisions white humans tend to make about non-white humans.
This referee had power over this young man. And he made the choice to both humiliate him and destroy his body. We can ask ourselves what kind of person would do that. We can ask ourselves what they would have to think of this young man in order to make that choice.
In the same way that American humans are conditioned that "triumph requires sacrifice", white American humans are conditioned that there is a class that is designated for sacrificing. And it's not them.
Our bodies have been designated for sacrifice since the genesis of this nation. In fact, it was enshrined in the "rules" for a very long time.
The people in power are the same ones who think it's normal and common to sacrifice us so that they can win. If there has to be sacrifice in order to triumph, they will organize things so it mostly falls on us. A system of racism.
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