The attack on black lives in America continues, even in an all-encompassing, unified, racially diverse Olympic Games.
Only racism and hate can turn a glorious American fairy tale like the US women’s Olympic gymnastics team winning a second consecutive all-around team gold into a vicious cultural assault on the African-American women who have been the stars of the squad the past two Olympics. The remarkable athletes who have broken barriers and led the charge for Team USA gymnastics to become the premier program in the world.
Soon after Team USA took the podium on Tuesday and each girl immersed themselves in the moment and expressed their patriotism in ways that’s true to them, the Twitter terror exploded into a blatant racially-motivated attack against superstar Simone Biles and pioneer Gabby Douglas.
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While these beautiful brown women have worked hard, carried themselves with class and flawlessly represented American gymnastics, they were harshly criticized and judged on everything from their hair to their podium posture. Guess they wanted them to look like Blac Chyna out for a stroll through Midtown. That's the image of the successful black woman that we have been brainwashed into expecting.
Biles and swimmer Michael Phelps are the hands down studs of these 2016 Rio Olympic Games. At the 2012 London Olympics, Douglas became the first Black woman to ever win an individual all-around gold in Olympics gymnastics competition. Competing in her first Olympics, Biles is the most decorated American female gymnast in World Championships history, with a total of fourteen medals, ten of them gold.
The real story is about Douglas setting the stage in 2012 and her captivating performance, which set off a gymnastics revolution all the way down to the grassroots levels, and then the emergence of Biles who thrived off of Douglas' inspiration, knowing that winning individual gold is possible. Knowing that a young girl can rise up from tough financial and environmental circumstances, settle on a dream, pursue it and make it a reality.
Dissing a black girl’s hair is old school, like calling African-Americans jigaboos. It’s played out and for anybody to play that card with African-American women from their own country is just awful. Anyone criticizing Biles or Douglas for not having their wigs tight like they just walked out of the salon is a fool; the worst kind of person and the type of anti-American sewage we have feeding off this country and starting civil wars within it.
Douglas has already been down this road. Four years ago her hair was the talk of the Olympics, at times exceeding the conversation about her performance. I guess, you can't teach an old dog new tricks, for real.
For citizens of any country to change that glorious moment into a free-for-all destruction of two icons just hours after they brought their country significant pride is a sad sign of the times and unacceptable in my book.
It’s sickening that in light of every unprecedented accomplishment and obstacle these athletes have overcome as African-American women in the white world of gymnastics, that any news publication or social media outlet would waste their time indulging in nonsense, bigotry and garbage talk.
News publications were no better as some fed into the entire ordeal, presenting Biles, who was adopted by her maternal grandparents as her mom fought drug addiction, as a poor black, destitute child who was saved by a christian family and the white world of gymnastics.
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Latimes.com wrote that Gabby Douglas is under Twitter fire because on Tuesday she stood at attention on the podium instead of placing her hand on her heart during the national anthem.
“During the medal ceremony for her gold-winning USA gymnastics team on Tuesday at the Rio Olympic Arena, Douglas failed to show what many considered appropriate reverence. As her four teammates stood at full attention with their hands over their hearts, Douglas was slumped with her hands held casually in front of her as if she had just finished last.
Even during moments when she showed a smile, her body language was disconnected. The difference in aura with the other American gymnasts was palpable.
Afterward she said she was simply “overwhelmed.” It wasn’t long before an angry Twitterverse kicked into gear: Some accused her of being unpatriotic. One said she had no excuse not to honor the flag of the country that gave her the opportunity to compete.
Others applauded her for what they perceived as a protest. One person commended her for what he believed was a statement on the two-year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
The debate mounted until Douglas responded Wednesday on Twitter. She did not claim any protest. She did not explain her slumping. She simply apologized.
She wrote: “In response to a few tweets I saw tonight, I always stand at attention out of respect for our country whenever the national anthem is played. I never meant any disrespect and apologize if I offended anyone. I’m so overwhelmed at what our team accomplished today and overjoyed that we were able to bring home another gold for our country!”
If Douglas was truly overcome with emotion as she claimed, that would have been visible, yet her expression was blank and distant.
We don’t need the latimes.com to analyze what Douglas meant or didn’t mean on the podium. If it was a silent protest, then that’s her right as an African-American who can crusade for the same legitimate social issues and reform that any other Olympian with a cause can -- within the rules. She did it respectfully and her legendary 2012 Olympic performance definitely gives her a pass.
People want her to be jumping for joy up on the podium, but her blank expression could have been her reflecting on the fact that she won’t be able to make more history and become the first gymnast to defend her gold in the all-around competition. She’ll be watching Biles and captain Aly Raisman chase those dreams. To tell you the truth, she looked more relieved than anything in 2012 after winning the gold. Her emotional state didn't seem much different this go- round. Winning the gold after years of struggle and torture is anti-climactic for some athletes and you often see a calm exhale happen right in front of your eyes on the podium.
(Photo Credit: azcentral.com)
In any event, social media has once again reared its ugly head and news outlets have been led down a trail of hurtful, tabloid journalism, feeding off of everything that's bad about people instead of the way Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas are blazing historic trails and diversifying a sport that has never truly embraced African-American women.