Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Juashaunna Kelly's Track Suit Disqualifies her: Islamophobia? an Official on a Power Trip? or Bureaucratic Cluelessness?

I vote for Bureaucratic Cluelessness.

Juashaunna Kelly is a Senior in Washington, D.C.'s Theodore Roosevelt High School. She's also the fastest runner this winter in her district, for girls' mile and two-mile.

And, she's been disqualified because her track suit accomodates her Islamic standards, not what an official says the rules mean.

A track meet director said that her suit violated National Federation of State High School Associations standards, since it (allegedly) wasn't "a single-solid color and unadorned, except for a single school name or insignia no more than 2 1/4 inches."

The official says that it's a simple matter of uniform rules. Juashaunna Kelly's mother says that it's not that simple: "First, they said she had to take her hood off," Sarah Kelly said. "Then, they said she can't have anything with logos displayed. Then, they said she had to turn it inside out. When I told them that there weren't any logos on it, they said she had to put a plain white T-shirt on over it."

There's a decent photo of Juashaunna Kelly and her track suit at FOXNews.com. I'll admit that it doesn't look like the hot pants and clingy tops that those long-stemmed high school track girls usually wear.

And, it wasn't one color.

It's possible that the Kellys decided to spark a confrontation by putting that suit together.

I think it's more likely that this track wonder was trying to accommodate the needs of a foot race and her Islamic standards: and missed the monochrome requirement.

I also think that it's not likely that the track meet director, and other officials involved, were displaying an anti-Islam bias. It's possible, of course, but if even part of what what Juashaunna's mother is accurate, this sounds more like a bureaucratic snafu. To me, at least.

Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Juashaunna's mother ought to sue the Track Association for discrimination against practicing her religion. A nice, healthy lawsuit on the association's table should change their minds about being so narrow-minded to discriminate against others for practicing their religion!!!!!

Anonymous said...

she can practice her religion just do it in one color.

Anonymous said...

What's really incredible is that this is even a blurred blip on the media radar.

This isn't Islamaphobia. If it's anything, it's stupid.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Thanks, Anonymous, Anonymous, and Anonymous, for your comments,

I don't know that I'd call the situation "incredible." It's 'way too easy for people to miss important details in rules or instructions.

This being a "blurred blip" on the media radar isn't so surprising: This story is about an accomplished athlete, who is also an attractive young woman, being frustrated by the collision of a costume error colliding with a set of rules being driven by a bureaucrat.

I see this as a human-interest story, which sheds a little light on cultural fallout from the War on Terror.

Anonymous said...

During the weeks following the January 12 Montgomery Invitational Indoor Track Championships in Largo, Maryland, there were articles relating to the supposed disqualification of a Muslim athlete being posted on both the major and local news media sources as well as on numerous blog sites. These articles, released through the AP by the Washington Post, were full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies and fueled a firestorm of religious discrimination debates, resulting in threats and volumes of hate mail directed at the meet director and officials.
In this January 30 newspaper article, the track officials have finally been allowed to tell their side of the story. I hope you will post this so that they too will have a chance to be heard. Thank you.
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008 GAZETTE.NET
Officials: Religion not issue in runner’s exclusion
Incident involving the color of a Muslim girl’s uniform ‘has
been blown out of proportion,’ District administrator says
by Chay Rao and Stephanie Siegel | Staff Writers
Montgomery school officials recently came under fire for being insensitive and even racist after a Muslim girl was told she could not participate in a county track meet because of her uniform, which covered her head, arms and legs in accordance with Muslim customs.
But according to Montgomery County Public Schools officials, religion had nothing to do with the ruling made by an event referee and MCPS employees had no authority to overrule the decision.
‘‘This has been a colossal misunderstanding,” said Kate Harrison, MCPS spokeswoman.
Juashuanna Kelly, a senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington, was told she could not run in the Jan. 12 Montgomery Invitational indoor track and field meet because the garment she wore did not conform to color standards. Kelly, who is Muslim, was wearing a half-blue and half-orange unitard and head covering under her track uniform.
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Indoor Track and Field guidelines state that a runner must wear a single-colored tracksuit under a school jersey — a rule to help identify runners at the finish line in case of close finishes.
‘‘The uniform rules are clearly stated within the rule book. ... If she had worn a solid color, she would have been fine. It was something that could have been avoided early on,” said Becky Oakes, assistant director of NFHS. ‘‘No one wants the athlete DQ’d.”
Kelly, who had worn the special uniform to other meets, including the Montgomery Invitational last year, had been granted a waiver for meets in Washington, according to Allen Chin, director of athletics for District of Columbia Public Schools.
‘‘I feel sorry for the young girl, but frankly, this is something that has been blown out of proportion,” Chin said.
After being told she could participate if she wore a single-colored, long-sleeved T-shirt over the unitard, Kelly and her coach, Tony Bowden, decided to withdraw from the race, Harrison said. Kelly was not disqualified, according to Harrison.
‘‘Religion had no factor in the decision over whether she could participate,” she said.
Bo Meyers, a hired official who is qualified as a ‘‘master referee” by USA Track and Field, the national governing body for track and field sports, made the ruling, Harrison said.
Oakes said Kelly had time to make a change if she wanted. ‘‘Everything was handled properly by meet officials according to the rules,” she said.
However, for many in the Muslim community, barring Kelly from the meet because of the colors of her unitard was the wrong decision.
‘‘The people who made this decision were very insensitive,” said Rashid Makhdoom, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Muslim Council, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting Muslim interests and involvement in the county. ‘‘I think there should be some sensitivity training. There is some feeling that there might be some kind of race [discrimination] involved.”
Harrison said training to make employees aware of cultural and religious differences is already required for school system employees; however, Meyers and other athletic officials are not considered MCPS employees.
One MCPS employee who was criticized for the decision was meet director Tom Rogers, a track and field coach at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda. Rogers was blamed by some for upholding the decision not to let Kelly participate.
‘‘There has been an enormous barrage of angry and even threatening letters,” Harrison said.
But it was never Rogers’ role to say who was allowed to compete, she said.
‘‘His role was as an administrator, to take care of the business aspects,” Harrison said.
Rogers was in charge of making sure the track and equipment was ready, sending out the invitations and hiring the officials, among other duties.
Makhdoom believes an exception could have been made for Kelly.
‘‘She has sacrificed quite a bit of her religious beliefs and compromised to participate,” he said.
‘‘Our religious beliefs are such that women, especially, are not supposed to show the body. I would call it a compromise,” he said of the garment Kelly wore. While it covered her skin, it was still tighter than clothes traditional Muslim women wear, he said.
The perception that Kelly was singled out for her religion is damaging for community relations between Muslims and others, he said.
In years past, several runners have competed in the Montgomery Invitational wearing head coverings, including Shakira Raheem, who competed for Albert Einstein High School before graduating in 2007, and Fatima Abbas, who ran for Rogers at Walter Johnson before graduating in 1999.
‘‘The head covering itself was never a violation,” Rogers said. ‘‘Fatima ran with a hejab for four years, and she never had any problems.”
He said there was another athlete, a boys hurdler from James Robinson High School in Virginia, who was not allowed to compete at the Montgomery Invitational this month because of uniform violations similar to Kelly’s.
‘‘The torso of [Kelly’s] undergarment was multicolored, which was the same problem that the kid from Robinson had,” Rogers said. ‘‘The implication was religious discrimination, but that was absolutely not the case. It is a very one-sided view that has been out there and that has been hurtful.”

Maryland Community Newspapers Online
http://www.gazette.net/stories/013008/montnew64001_32378.shtml During the weeks following the January 12 Montgomery Invitational Indoor Track Championships in Largo, Maryland, there were articles relating to the supposed disqualification of a Muslim athlete being posted on both the major and local news media sources as well as on numerous blog sites. These articles, released through the AP by the Washington Post, were full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies and fueled a firestorm of religious discrimination debates, resulting in threats and volumes of hate mail directed at the meet director and officials.
In this January 30 newspaper article, the track officials have finally been allowed to tell their side of the story. I hope you will post this so that they too will have a chance to be heard. Thank you.
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008 GAZETTE.NET
Officials: Religion not issue in runner’s exclusion
Incident involving the color of a Muslim girl’s uniform ‘has
been blown out of proportion,’ District administrator says
by Chay Rao and Stephanie Siegel | Staff Writers
Montgomery school officials recently came under fire for being insensitive and even racist after a Muslim girl was told she could not participate in a county track meet because of her uniform, which covered her head, arms and legs in accordance with Muslim customs.
But according to Montgomery County Public Schools officials, religion had nothing to do with the ruling made by an event referee and MCPS employees had no authority to overrule the decision.
‘‘This has been a colossal misunderstanding,” said Kate Harrison, MCPS spokeswoman.
Juashuanna Kelly, a senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington, was told she could not run in the Jan. 12 Montgomery Invitational indoor track and field meet because the garment she wore did not conform to color standards. Kelly, who is Muslim, was wearing a half-blue and half-orange unitard and head covering under her track uniform.
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Indoor Track and Field guidelines state that a runner must wear a single-colored tracksuit under a school jersey — a rule to help identify runners at the finish line in case of close finishes.
‘‘The uniform rules are clearly stated within the rule book. ... If she had worn a solid color, she would have been fine. It was something that could have been avoided early on,” said Becky Oakes, assistant director of NFHS. ‘‘No one wants the athlete DQ’d.”
Kelly, who had worn the special uniform to other meets, including the Montgomery Invitational last year, had been granted a waiver for meets in Washington, according to Allen Chin, director of athletics for District of Columbia Public Schools.
‘‘I feel sorry for the young girl, but frankly, this is something that has been blown out of proportion,” Chin said.
After being told she could participate if she wore a single-colored, long-sleeved T-shirt over the unitard, Kelly and her coach, Tony Bowden, decided to withdraw from the race, Harrison said. Kelly was not disqualified, according to Harrison.
‘‘Religion had no factor in the decision over whether she could participate,” she said.
Bo Meyers, a hired official who is qualified as a ‘‘master referee” by USA Track and Field, the national governing body for track and field sports, made the ruling, Harrison said.
Oakes said Kelly had time to make a change if she wanted. ‘‘Everything was handled properly by meet officials according to the rules,” she said.
However, for many in the Muslim community, barring Kelly from the meet because of the colors of her unitard was the wrong decision.
‘‘The people who made this decision were very insensitive,” said Rashid Makhdoom, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Muslim Council, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting Muslim interests and involvement in the county. ‘‘I think there should be some sensitivity training. There is some feeling that there might be some kind of race [discrimination] involved.”
Harrison said training to make employees aware of cultural and religious differences is already required for school system employees; however, Meyers and other athletic officials are not considered MCPS employees.
One MCPS employee who was criticized for the decision was meet director Tom Rogers, a track and field coach at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda. Rogers was blamed by some for upholding the decision not to let Kelly participate.
‘‘There has been an enormous barrage of angry and even threatening letters,” Harrison said.
But it was never Rogers’ role to say who was allowed to compete, she said.
‘‘His role was as an administrator, to take care of the business aspects,” Harrison said.
Rogers was in charge of making sure the track and equipment was ready, sending out the invitations and hiring the officials, among other duties.
Makhdoom believes an exception could have been made for Kelly.
‘‘She has sacrificed quite a bit of her religious beliefs and compromised to participate,” he said.
‘‘Our religious beliefs are such that women, especially, are not supposed to show the body. I would call it a compromise,” he said of the garment Kelly wore. While it covered her skin, it was still tighter than clothes traditional Muslim women wear, he said.
The perception that Kelly was singled out for her religion is damaging for community relations between Muslims and others, he said.
In years past, several runners have competed in the Montgomery Invitational wearing head coverings, including Shakira Raheem, who competed for Albert Einstein High School before graduating in 2007, and Fatima Abbas, who ran for Rogers at Walter Johnson before graduating in 1999.
‘‘The head covering itself was never a violation,” Rogers said. ‘‘Fatima ran with a hejab for four years, and she never had any problems.”
He said there was another athlete, a boys hurdler from James Robinson High School in Virginia, who was not allowed to compete at the Montgomery Invitational this month because of uniform violations similar to Kelly’s.
‘‘The torso of [Kelly’s] undergarment was multicolored, which was the same problem that the kid from Robinson had,” Rogers said. ‘‘The implication was religious discrimination, but that was absolutely not the case. It is a very one-sided view that has been out there and that has been hurtful.”

Maryland Community Newspapers Online
http://www.gazette.net/stories/013008/montnew64001_32378.shtml
During the weeks following the January 12 Montgomery Invitational Indoor Track Championships in Largo, Maryland, there were articles relating to the supposed disqualification of a Muslim athlete being posted on both the major and local news media sources as well as on numerous blog sites. These articles, released through the AP by the Washington Post, were full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies and fueled a firestorm of religious discrimination debates, resulting in threats and volumes of hate mail directed at the meet director and officials.
In this January 30 newspaper article, the track officials have finally been allowed to tell their side of the story. I hope you will post this so that they too will have a chance to be heard. Thank you.
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008 GAZETTE.NET
Officials: Religion not issue in runner’s exclusion
Incident involving the color of a Muslim girl’s uniform ‘has
been blown out of proportion,’ District administrator says
by Chay Rao and Stephanie Siegel | Staff Writers
Montgomery school officials recently came under fire for being insensitive and even racist after a Muslim girl was told she could not participate in a county track meet because of her uniform, which covered her head, arms and legs in accordance with Muslim customs.
But according to Montgomery County Public Schools officials, religion had nothing to do with the ruling made by an event referee and MCPS employees had no authority to overrule the decision.
‘‘This has been a colossal misunderstanding,” said Kate Harrison, MCPS spokeswoman.
Juashuanna Kelly, a senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington, was told she could not run in the Jan. 12 Montgomery Invitational indoor track and field meet because the garment she wore did not conform to color standards. Kelly, who is Muslim, was wearing a half-blue and half-orange unitard and head covering under her track uniform.
National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Indoor Track and Field guidelines state that a runner must wear a single-colored tracksuit under a school jersey — a rule to help identify runners at the finish line in case of close finishes.
‘‘The uniform rules are clearly stated within the rule book. ... If she had worn a solid color, she would have been fine. It was something that could have been avoided early on,” said Becky Oakes, assistant director of NFHS. ‘‘No one wants the athlete DQ’d.”
Kelly, who had worn the special uniform to other meets, including the Montgomery Invitational last year, had been granted a waiver for meets in Washington, according to Allen Chin, director of athletics for District of Columbia Public Schools.
‘‘I feel sorry for the young girl, but frankly, this is something that has been blown out of proportion,” Chin said.
After being told she could participate if she wore a single-colored, long-sleeved T-shirt over the unitard, Kelly and her coach, Tony Bowden, decided to withdraw from the race, Harrison said. Kelly was not disqualified, according to Harrison.
‘‘Religion had no factor in the decision over whether she could participate,” she said.
Bo Meyers, a hired official who is qualified as a ‘‘master referee” by USA Track and Field, the national governing body for track and field sports, made the ruling, Harrison said.
Oakes said Kelly had time to make a change if she wanted. ‘‘Everything was handled properly by meet officials according to the rules,” she said.
However, for many in the Muslim community, barring Kelly from the meet because of the colors of her unitard was the wrong decision.
‘‘The people who made this decision were very insensitive,” said Rashid Makhdoom, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Muslim Council, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting Muslim interests and involvement in the county. ‘‘I think there should be some sensitivity training. There is some feeling that there might be some kind of race [discrimination] involved.”
Harrison said training to make employees aware of cultural and religious differences is already required for school system employees; however, Meyers and other athletic officials are not considered MCPS employees.
One MCPS employee who was criticized for the decision was meet director Tom Rogers, a track and field coach at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda. Rogers was blamed by some for upholding the decision not to let Kelly participate.
‘‘There has been an enormous barrage of angry and even threatening letters,” Harrison said.
But it was never Rogers’ role to say who was allowed to compete, she said.
‘‘His role was as an administrator, to take care of the business aspects,” Harrison said.
Rogers was in charge of making sure the track and equipment was ready, sending out the invitations and hiring the officials, among other duties.
Makhdoom believes an exception could have been made for Kelly.
‘‘She has sacrificed quite a bit of her religious beliefs and compromised to participate,” he said.
‘‘Our religious beliefs are such that women, especially, are not supposed to show the body. I would call it a compromise,” he said of the garment Kelly wore. While it covered her skin, it was still tighter than clothes traditional Muslim women wear, he said.
The perception that Kelly was singled out for her religion is damaging for community relations between Muslims and others, he said.
In years past, several runners have competed in the Montgomery Invitational wearing head coverings, including Shakira Raheem, who competed for Albert Einstein High School before graduating in 2007, and Fatima Abbas, who ran for Rogers at Walter Johnson before graduating in 1999.
‘‘The head covering itself was never a violation,” Rogers said. ‘‘Fatima ran with a hejab for four years, and she never had any problems.”
He said there was another athlete, a boys hurdler from James Robinson High School in Virginia, who was not allowed to compete at the Montgomery Invitational this month because of uniform violations similar to Kelly’s.
‘‘The torso of [Kelly’s] undergarment was multicolored, which was the same problem that the kid from Robinson had,” Rogers said. ‘‘The implication was religious discrimination, but that was absolutely not the case. It is a very one-sided view that has been out there and that has been hurtful.”

Maryland Community Newspapers Online
http://www.gazette.net/stories/013008/montnew64001_32378.shtml

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Anonymous of February 6, 2008,

Thank you for your comment: and the extensive and pertinent quotations.

I believe that this might be a reasonable synopsis of the commentary:

"If she had worn a solid color, she would have been fine."

That was my tentative conclusion, based on what I read, back in January.

The second Anonymous of January 17 seems to have come to the same conclusion.

Getting back to a point I've made from time to time: In situations where emotions run high, it's prudent to stop; relax; and THINK!

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Blogroll

Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.