Kelly Curtis on Not Wanting to Be Called the ‘First Black’ Skeleton Athlete to Compete for US at Olympics: ‘ I Embrace All Parts of My Heritage’

by Shine My Crown Staff
Kelly Curtis poses for a USA Bobsled and Skeleton photo shoot.

Biracial athlete Kelly Curtis made history as the first Black athlete to represent Team USA at the Olympics in the sport of skeleton.

However, Curtis wants the media to acknowledge both sides of her heritage.

“Welp I didn’t expect my first Olympic Games to create such a buzz around my genotype. I think it’s okay to claim this space being bi-racial, Black and White at the same time. Not half and half. My experience growing up in America is a fully nuanced one that can’t be conveniently sliced into two,” the 33-year-old athlete wrote on Instagram. “I embrace all parts of my heritage. The brave and crazy ones that uprooted everything they knew to move to America voluntarily, and the ones that were ripped from their homeland involuntarily and stripped of their history.”

She continued, “It’s understandable that the headlines highlighted one aspect that makes me different on the short list of remarkable USA Skeleton Olympians. It’s frankly none of my business how other people perceive how I present phenotypically. That is nothing I can control. If it has brought more eyeballs to our crazy sport and sparked a light in someone to look it up then that’s great.”

Curtis finished 21st in the women’s skeleton event at the Beijing Games ending Saturday. She was a major heptathlete at Division III’s Springfield College. She also won that event at the 2011 Penn Relays and is a three-time All-American.

Curtis went on to explain the lack of representation she witnessed growing up and wishes to contribute to the change.

“I wish I was exposed to more representation growing up. I still get a little giddy when I find out someone else is mixed like me. Adia Barnes was that person recently for me. Maybe I can be that person for another little mixed girl who always feels like the “other.” I know I am that person for my nieces.”

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