Willie Richardson / July 2, 2021

Smoke One: Catch Me If You Can

The glorification of weed in hip-hop music caught up with an Olympic athlete.

Sha'Carri Richardson, who has been hailed as the most exciting female sprint star since Florence Griffith Joyner, was billed to run in the 200m at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting in Sweden this weekend. But she was not on the entry list for the race.

“I am human” is the response Sha'Carrie Richardson left on her Twitter feed to explain losing an Olympic opportunity of a lifetime. No, everyone is human. You are just an irresponsible, entitled track star who put smoking weed over smoking your competition. The fastest woman in the world, who smokes everyone on the field, just got smoked by her own weed smoke. You can’t beat the person staring at you in the mirror and expect to beat your rival competition.

Cannabis is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), but if athletes can prove that their ingestion of the substance was unrelated to sports performance, then a suspension of three months rather than the usual four years is imposed. If an athlete is willing to undertake an approved treatment program in collaboration with their national anti-doping body, then the ban can be reduced to one month.

The native Texan was aiming to become the first American woman to win the Olympic 100m title since Gail Devers in 1996 after posting 10.72sec in April — one of her five runs under 11 seconds this season.

For me, this goes beyond weed smoke. Sha'Carri Richardson is only living out the culture of hip-hop she embraces — swagger, flamboyancy, tattoos, long weaves, and the propensity to smoke blunts. This culture of failure smokes everything in its direction, including character, opportunities, and even Olympic gold medals. Just read the lyrics to hip-hop songs and you’ll understand this culture of cannabis and its love/hate relationship.

Scarface, “Mary Jane”:

When you sad, depressed, and feeling strange — who you blame
Need some company to keep you sane — call her name
Mary Jane I love you Mary Jane — do your thang
You’re all I need to keep me through this thang — true to game

Jay Z, “Feelin It”:

I’m so confused, OK I’m getting weeded now
I know I contradicted myself, look, I don’t need that now

Pharoahe Monch featuring Talib Kweli, “D.R.E.A.M.”:

I used to smoke so much weed that it clouded my brain
I took a break, had to find life’s meaning again
Without the smoke in my lungs I started dreaming again

Notice the irony of hip-hop culture. In one breath, weed is the ultimate rush of heightened ecstasy, and in the next lyric it’s a destructive force bent on destroying dreams.

Sha'Carri Richardson might be the fastest woman since Flo Jo, but she’s relatively slow in the department of using good judgment and character to position herself as an American Olympic champion. Thanks to the fatherless inner-city culture of hip-hop, another one bites “the dust.”

Update 7/7: Richardson was denied a spot on the Olympic team after a review.

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