After receiving a bronze medal at the Olympic trials in Oregon on Saturday and qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, Berry, a 31-year-old Black athlete, staged an impromptu protest as “The Star Spangled Banner” started playing.
Standing on a podium alongside winner DeAnna Price and silver medallist Brooke Andersen—who both adopted the patriotic hand-over-heart stance—Berry was seen with her left hand on her hip and shuffling her feet, then turning away from the flag to face the stands. Near the end of the anthem, Berry covered her head with a black t-shirt emblazoned with the words “Activist Athlete.”
Berry—who has long spoken out on issues of systemic racism—later expressed being “pissed” over the timing of the anthem, which she felt was deliberate. “I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose,” she said.
A USA Track and Field spokeswoman said: “We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards. The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule.” While the anthem was slated to play at 5:20 p.m., the music instead started five minutes later on Saturday.
After facing backlash, Berry on Sunday tweeted the vitriol showed her that “people in American rally patriotism over basic morality” and “Even after the murder of George Floyd and so many others; the commercials, statements, and phony sentiments regarding black lives were just a hoax.”
Amid dismay-tinted coverage of Berry’s protest, Fox News hosted Crenshaw in a Monday morning Fox & Friends segment, during which the hosts asked him about the athlete’s show of dissent.
“We don’t need any more activist athletes,” Crenshaw said. “She should be removed from the team. The entire point of the team is to represent the United States of America.”
“So it’s one thing when these NBA players do it, okay fine, we’ll just stop watching,” he continued. “But now the Olympic team? And it’s multiple cases of this. They should be removed.”
Crenshaw went on to state that the “bare minimum requirement” should be for athletes to “believe in the country you’re representing” before linking Berry’s protest to critical race theory, the academic movement that examines structural racism and has provoked conservatives’ ire du jour.
“This is the pathology that occurs when we’re teaching critical race theory into our institutions, because critical race theory again basically teaches that our institutions are racist, that our systems are deeply racist, that you can’t see the racism, right, cause it’s subtle, and if you deny it, it’s because of your white fragility,” Crenshaw said.
“But you’re teaching people this constantly and this is what it results in,” he added. “It results in these displays of hatred towards our own country and it’s gotta stop.”
“Sure, we have our faults, but no nation in the history of the world has liberated more people from captivity, has lifted more out of poverty, has bled more for freedom, or has blessed more w/ abundance,” he posted. “God bless America.”
On Monday, Berry posted a tweet clarifying: “I never said I hated this country! People try to put words in my mouth but they can’t. That’s why I speak out. I LOVE MY PEOPLE.”
The champion hammer thrower’s track record of activism includes raising a fist during the national anthem after receiving a gold medal the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. The gesture was met with the International Olympic Committee sanctioning her through a year-long probation and, according to Berry, resulted in financial damage through loss of sponsorships.