Believe it or not, it took until February 2017 for a historically black college cheerleading team to place first at the CheerSport Nationals. It was Savannah State University’s 12-woman, one-man squad that accomplished this great honor. This is something that personally came as a surprise, because of African-American’s storied history in athletics, however, cheerleading culture reminded me why this is a first.
— Gorgeous (@Gemyaaa) February 20, 2017
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) February 20, 2017
Blacks have dominated multiple sports over the years: basketball, football, track and field, baseball and various others, but somehow cheerleading still remains a sport where blacks are isolated. At the average, predominately-white school, you’ll still find many black athletes, especially on basketball teams, but somehow the cheerleading squads feature few to none. This stems from an age-old mindset that black girls particularly can’t be as “pretty” or “glamorous” as a white girl. We are allowed to play other sports and do physically strenuous activities that don’t necessarily display beauty, but when it comes to cheerleading, modeling and various types of pageantry, it’s harder to find African-American women, unless it’s an event put on by a black school or organization.
This is something I’ve noticed at high schools a lot, but especially at large universities in the south. The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University’s cheerleading squads have historically shied away from having black cheerleaders on campus, although there are thousands of black female students that cheered in high school and dozens who try-out yearly and it’s no coincidence if you ask me. There are beautiful women of all races that can cheer equally well and it’s honestly perplexing that I have to type this article in 2017.
This has been a problem that hasn’t been talked about much because of topics that are supposedly more “important” than this one. Nevertheless, Savannah State’s cheerleaders brought the topic back up by making history at the perfect time and place: Black History Month in the “Chocolate City,”Atlanta, Georgia.