Badass of the Week: Yusra Mardini

Elliot Friar

Olympic swimmer and Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini transcends the word hero.

Like many of nearly five million Syrian refugees, Mardini and her sister fled the war-torn country in search of asylum on a boat. After a motor failure, Mardini, her sister, and two others spent three hours pushing their boat and sixteen other passengers to safety.

Really. Hero.

Today, Mardini is competing in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as a member of the first ever Refugee Olympic Team.

As she butterfly strokes and freestyles the length of a literal Olympic-sized swimming pool, Mardini wants to deliver an important message to the international community.

"I want everyone to think refugees are normal people who had their homelands and lost them not because they wanted to run away and be refugees, but because they have dreams in their lives and they had to go,” said Mardini at a press conference. 

If this isn't a steep side-eye to Donald Trump -- the man who thinks refugees are terrorists and should not be granted asylum even as their homes crumble and families are torn apart -- I don't know what is.

In all seriousness, we *should* cheer on Mardini's heroism and celebrate her success. But, not without recognizing the completely avoidable existence of the Refugee Olympic Team she is a part of.

According to a recent blog post from Pew Research Center, nearly 1 in 100 people are displaced from their homes. Instead of welcoming refugees with open arms, western coalitions have been stewing in overt discrimination against refugees cooked up by racially charged nationalism.

The international community has completely failed to offer the victims of gross political and social violence safety. The Refugee Olympic Team is a tangible reminder of this failure on a significant international stage (the Olympics), and it normalizes the once impermanent role of refugee as permanently outsider.

As we celebrate Yusra Mardini's complete badassery, we should also act on her message of inclusion.

Yusra Mardini is our Badass of the Week.