A Black Perspective12 012  A14, 201

Page 19

 August 11, 2012

Let the Games Begin:
Gabby Douglas and Serena Williams


           Gabby Douglas and Serena Williams were among the jewels that the African-American community presented on the international stage of the 2012 Olympics.  They were somewhat unique in that they excelled in sports that previously been dominated by White athletes.  No one should be surprised that White supremacist racism reared its ugly head to slight these Black women.

Gabby Douglas

The Hair


            Gabby won her first gold medal as a member of the United States women's gymnastics team.  Her second gold medal was for the individual all-around performance, thus anointing her the best gymnast in the world.  Gabby was the first African-American, indeed, the first Black woman, to be so honored.  Her euphoria at the honor was short lived.  Almost immediately she was criticized for, of all things, her hair.

Olympic rules are very strict about the hair style of the gymnasts.  The hair must be combed straight back and put either in a pony tail or a bun.  Gabby complied with this rule.  The only complaint possible would have to concern the texture of her hair.  Gabby's reaction was the same as a White colleague's, " what was wrong with her hair"? 

Sadly, those who lit up twitter land with criticisms and digs about Gabby's hair were Blacks, particularly Black women.  These vicious attacks on an innocent Black child reek of self hatred and inferiority complexes.  Black disrespect of Gabby Douglas gives the White media and White society the right to disrespect her also.

The Monkey


            Right after Gabby's medal winning performance, Olympics broadcaster, NBC, ran a commercial featuring a monkey performing gymnastics.  This is not to imply that NBC used the monkey to depict Gabby.  The monkey was performing on a set of rings.  Rings are not included in the women's gymnastics events.  However, using a monkey to perform gymnastics in a commercial, is the epitome of insensitivity.  This is particularly true when the commercial is used at a gymnastics event in which there are Black participants.  NBC acknowledged as much as the broadcaster apologized for the use of the commercial.

Gabby had been living with a White family in Iowa in order to be near her gymnastics coach.  Combining this fact with the long hours necessary to practice in order to compete at the Olympics level, one must surmise that Gabby led a very sheltered life.  To an innocent 16 year old, the implication that she should be owed an apology for the use of a monkey in a commercial could be devastating.  Thrusting Gabby on the global stage as the focal point of racist innuendo could be as debilitating as calling her "nigger".

The Father


            The media, particularly the internet and the Olympics coverage, bombarded Gabby with  personal questions about her relationship with her father, Timothy Douglas.  Mr. Douglas is currently estranged from the family.  The media manipulated Gabby into declaring that her father was a deadbeat dad.  She contended that he was derelict in his child support payments.  She said that Mr. Douglas had abandoned the family years ago.  Her mother, according to Gabby, had to struggle and support the family singlehandedly.  These financial responsibilities left the mother, Natalie Hawkins, bankrupt.  How convenient, the perfect Black family stereotype, the single, struggling mother, the deadbeat father.  I have not determined how accurate this scenario is.  However, it seems to be more a tale drawn out by a savvy media than one that has a solid base of truth.

The media contended that its intrusion into Gabby's life was the "other side of fame".  They said that her celebrity makes her personal life open to public scrutiny.  I cannot recall any other reports on any other Olympic athletes where a hatchet job was done on the athlete's father.

            After the hair, the monkey and the father, Gabby participated in 2 more gymnastics events.  She finished 8th out of 8 in the uneven bars and 7th out of 8 on the balance beam.  On the bright side, a model, who had been severely injured by walking into an airplane propeller, had said that Gabby was her inspiration.  As one of her first duties as a global icon, Gabby met with the model.  Her hair was straight, silken even, long and flowing.  Gabby is a fast learner.  

Serena Williams

The Beads


            Richard Williams introduced his daughters, Venus and Serena, to the world of United States tennis at an early age.  Venus turned professional in 1994, at the age of 14.  Serena turned professional in 1995, at the age of 15.  They entered a world in which all their peers came from wealth and country clubs.  Their peers were also all White.  Teenage girls, seeking approval, can be vicious in banding together against outsiders.  The Williams sisters undoubtedly underwent racism that would have defeated those with less character.  Black people, particularly Black women, have problems accepting Black hair.  The hair issue must have left Venus and Serena at their most vulnerable.

Richard Williams, as usual, was a step ahead in the game.  The Williams sisters played with a hair style that covered their hair in beads.  They were criticized for the hair style.  The giggles were about how ghetto the beads were.  While the haters laughed at the beads, they did not mention the hair.  It is easier for teenage girls to defend their hair style than it is to defend a physical characteristic that they have no control over.    

Indian Wells


            During their professional careers the sisters have played against each other in various tournaments.  Often, these games turned out to be lackluster.  The sisters knew each other's game so well it would be predictable that one would know how to counter the other.  Of course, tennis fans and hierarchy alike accused the sisters and Mr. Williams of collusion.  They were incensed that a Black man could exert so much sway over their tournaments.

In 2001, at the Indian Wells Masters Tournament, Venus dropped out of a semifinal match against Serena.  Venus had tendinitis of the knee and decided that she could not play just 4 minutes before the scheduled start.  The next day Venus and Mr. Williams were booed as they went to the box to watch Serena play Kim Clijsters for the championship.  Serena won the match, although she was soundly booed throughout.  She was also booed during the presentation of the trophy.  The epithet, nigger, was generously sprinkled amongst the booing.  Also there were calls to, "go back to Compton".  Mr. Williams said that the booing and epithets were what the crowds had been dying to do, since the first time the sisters appeared on the tennis scene.

Since the Indian Wells incident, Venus and Serena have refused to appear in the Indian Wells Masters Tournament.  The Women's Tennis Association has threatened to fine the sisters if they refuse to participate in the tournament.  Serena has stated that she would not appear, even  if they fine her a million dollars.

Olympics 2012


            Serena Williams annihilated Maria Sharapova in the match for the Olympic gold medal.  Serena won in straight sets, 6-0 and 6-1.  The one game that Sharapova won prevented Serena from having a perfect match in the championship round.  After such domination, one can expect the victor to be exuberant .  Serena was so happy and still so full of energy that she did a little dance  after the victory.  The media, who only know South Central Los Angeles by the stories they have read, determined that this dance was the "crip walk".  Their opinion was bolstered by Black journalist, Jason Whitlock, who called the impromptu dance,  " immature and tasteless ".  Unlike Mr. Whitlock, I and probably 99.9% of the people watching the event, would not know the "crip walk" if it walked up and bit me.  Why could not the dance be attributed to the joy of winning and letting it go at that?

Without finding some criticism of Serena, the media would have to report that she mopped the floor with golden girl, Maria Sharapova.  Serena achieved perhaps the most one sided championship performance in the history of the Olympics.  She accomplished a feat of 4 gold medals for tennis that has been done by no one else, other than her sister.  All the media can come up with is some nonsense about a dance of joy.  How sad.


            After the uproar about the "crip walk", Serena had one remaining event.  She won the gold medal with her sister, Venus, in the tennis doubles match.  Serena's resounding response to the uproar was, "I don't care".  For now, Serena is more poised than Gabby Douglas.  That is to be expected, Gabby is a beautiful young girl, Serena is a beautiful, accomplished young woman.  Plus, Serena had her sister Venus and Mr. Richard Williams.  

Random Thoughts


            On August 2, 2012, in Jonesboro Arkansas, Chavis Carter was a passenger in a car pulled over by the police. He was detained after the police found a small amount of marijuana on his person.  He was searched, his hands were cuffed behind his back and he was placed in the back seat of a police car.   There Mr. Carter found a hidden gun on his person and committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.  This is the incident report that the Jonesboro police gives.

Not only is this a typical police disregard of young Black life, it is also further disrespect of the Black community.  They tell us that they killed a prisoner because he had hidden a gun in his afro.  They tell us that they kill countless young Black men because they reached for a nonexistent gun.  When we mention that there was no gun, they tell us that it is enough that the police thought there was a gun.   They tell us that when a man has an involuntary reactive movement from being beaten with a baton, he is endangering the life of a police officer

When will we learn?  They will kill us as long as we allow it.

Just asking.....  Is it any worse to be implied a monkey than it is to be nicknamed after a rodent, flying or otherwise?

  A Black Perspective  

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