Sports Illustrated Gets Racist Backlash by School District Employee

Matthew Sheldon, Student Writer

On April 29, Sports Illustrated announced that Halima Aden is the newest member of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit family, making history as the first Muslim model to wear a hijab and burkini in the magazine. Employee of Pasadena Independent School District said he would never support Sports Illustrated again because he is “opposed to all religions that want to kill me and my family”. The school will not take action against the racist employee because of first amendment rights.

The school has stated “Pasadena ISD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law. Statements made by an employee on their personal time are not made on behalf of the District. When acting as a private citizen, school employees are exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of speech”.

The magazine was released May 8th. The model, Halima Aden, a Somali-American woman, was born in Kenya at the Kakuma Refugee Camp. She moved to the US at the age of 6. She then went on to be the first woman to wear a hijab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant; where she finished as a semi-finalist. Maddie Maloney, a Pennridge Student, when asked how she felt about different cultures being displayed via Sports Illustrated she said “Different cultures have to be represented through social media”. Halima Aden then went to sign with IMG Models, based in New York. After she signed with IMG she worked for British Vogue and walked on the New York Fashion Week runways.

Sports Illustrated is not backing down from the minimal backlash saying “at Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, we strive to continue to spread the message that whether you are wearing one-piece, a two-piece, or a burkini, you are the pilot of your own beauty.” Sports Illustrated has over 3 million subscribers and is read by 23 million people each week, 18 million of those people being men. It is most commonly known for its renowned swimsuit issue.

When surveying a random class of High school student, out of the 24 selected, 23 supported Halima Aden and Sports Illustrated, and the one that did not support was male. One student voiced her opinions and stated “I think that it is cool the way they were able to adapt swimsuits to their religion” said Maria Anglero. Whether you are with the actions of the publication or not, it is obvious that strides toward representation are occurring in even the least likely of places.