Think racism hasn’t affected me? It’s there almost every day
- Dina Asher-Smith / The Telegraph, Women's Sport Monthly, telegraph.co.uk
“Think racism hasn’t affected me? It’s there almost everyday,” wrote Dina Asher-Smith in a standout column for Telegraph Women’s Sport, one of the most read pieces across the entire paper in June 2020. Dina is the star columnist for Telegraph Women’s Sport. Signed to the newspaper to catalogue her journey ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games, she soon grew into the role and quickly elevated her columns into a place for discussion with a far wider context. Unlike most sports columnists, Dina – a graduate in history with first class honours - writes her own copy. A 200m world champion, and triple European champion, with a string of commercial deals, whose appearances are fought over to grace the pages of fashion and lifestyle magazines such as Vogue, Elle and beyond, she appears on mainstream chat shows such as Jonathan Ross, on catwalks, and is equally at home playing pundit on the BBC’s athletics coverage. But it is rare for a current athlete, of her stellar profile, to speak out on such contentious issues as race. It is rarer still for someone who is only at the start of their career, aged just 24. As she wrote, “I agreed to be a columnist to take up space. I firmly believe that there are a number of ways to affect change, and one of them is that you have to step outside your own echo chamber and away from people who are naturally inclined to agree with you, and engage those with a different world view.” In a column so powerful, Dina details how racism impacts every aspect of her life – from having people assume her mother and father are divorced, to not being able to find the right shade of foundation for a darker skin tone, or being followed by security guards around a shop because, as a Black woman, they see her as a potential criminal before seeing her as a customer. It cannot be overstated how, in taking a stand, Dina had everything to lose. Sponsors, in the main, don’t want their athletes talking about racism. Sports fans don’t like it much either. Dina was acutely aware of all that, and still wrote the column anyway.
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