Gabby Douglas Forgive Them! For They Know Not What They Say!


I have been quietly watching the Olympics like many people around the world but for the first time I as a sports enthusiast and professional Olympic watcher have been motivated by the athleticism of all the athletes especially the women. When I look at all the sports women and their incredible athleticism, I feel nothing but admiration and respect for the time, commitment, and passion that’s gone into getting to the Olympics. Every toned muscle represents hours of rigours exercises and sacrifices made.

I am so motivated that this morning, I braved the cold Melbourne weather and walked for an hour. It’s my small step of getting back to the fitter person I used. Getting back to the Olympics, my respect for these athletes is so much that I have nothing but praise for them so it’s only natural for me to get on the band wagon and voice my extreme disgust and disappointment at those criticising the young black gold medallist Gabby Douglas.

Gymnastics is one of my favourite Olympic sports and as a young black girl growing up, it always used to make me sad that there weren’t a lot of black women on any Olympics gymnastics team, or swimming, or diving, or anything else besides track and field. I always got so excited to see a black face amongst the traditionally white dominated sports in the Olympics which are almost all of them. These Olympics have been a special treat to see black athletes winning medals in traditionally none black sports like swimmers, Judo, and Gymnastics and just participating in a lot of sports that I have not seen them in before. There was even a black South African competing in the often prestigious sports of rowing where the team won a medal.

Aug 4, 2012; London, United Kingdom; USA team members (L-R) Courtney Hurley – Maya Lawrence – Susie Scanlan – Kelley Hurley,women’s fencing epee team during the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL – South Arena 1. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


There used to be rules about what sports black people could participate in and what we were apparently good in and how water sports, gymnastics, and other sports where beyond our physical capabilities to compete in at a professional level.

But the greatest hurdle against our participation in a lot of sports has been prejudice, ignorance, social standing and money. Being an athlete is not cheap and you need more than people who believe in you to become successful. And these traditionally white dominated sports require just that, money. Not only do they require money but influence, power, and social pedigree. Even poor white people are exempted from this clubs.

I live not far from one of Melbourne’s prestigious mostly white, if not white only rowing clubs. These children have known each other since they were in their mother’s tummies. Their mother’s shopped at the same supermarket and went to the same pre-natal classes and their children as a result went to the same kinder-gardens, same primary schools, high schools, and they will end up at the same prestigious universities that their parents will pay for if they don’t get in on the merits of good marks which they will get in on the merits of good marks because the tutor that their parents have paid for as all but done their homework for them.

The club participants are traditionally the upper class white kids from the Melbourne private school sector who pay on a minimum at least $20, 000 (USD) on their school fees every year. These are also the types of schools that offer other sports such as tennis, gymnastics, and water polo.

As the number of the black middle class as grown world-wide, the fine racial line as to what is a traditionally black sport and what isn’t is changing. And that’s a good thing.

So why do black people who have never exercised in their lives or left the comfort of their couches and the security of their TV monitors feel that they have the right to comment on a young woman like Gabby Douglas who has probably had to overcome a lot of doubters and negativities in her young gymnastics career to win the gold medal deserve their criticism about doing her hair?

The fact that she decided to put her passion and her commitment for a sport first and become the best verses missing or skipping a hair-dressing appointment is something a lot of insecure people caught up in their own looks wouldn’t understand.

Yes you sitting on the couch. The road to achieving anything great is filled with a lot of sacrifices. Sometimes that sacrifice includes times when you will not always look your best, whether that be the way your hair is presented or your clothes.  Now Gabby Douglas’s hair would not be an issue if she was white. And I doubt that white audiences around the world are looking at this young Olympics champion and making any crazy comments about her hair.

Critics who say that she needs to represent African American’s properly and that her hair is part of it are deluded. First of all she’s sixteen! The only people she should be representing properly are her parents who have raised her and helped her get to where she is. Not a self-hating bunch of people who are over critical and who have made zero contribution to her success.

The committee on representing Black America properly should take a hard look at itself. If representing Black America, comes down to having perfect hair when competing and winning in an Olympic sports then Black America is truly lost. I hope that they do not represent the majority of the population. What would have happened if this young woman was a swimmer and was being presented with a gold medal after her swim and her hair went all frizzy as it does after being in the water?

Why are they holding the white standards of beauty of straight hair to this poor girl? Maybe this group of people would have preferred that she hide her black hair under some Indian person’s hair and rocked a weave. Then she would have been properly representing Black America’s obsession with image and hair extensions.

If you want to represent black people and the black race in a positive sense you could start by respecting yourself and setting an example rather than putting pressure on a young teenager whose done more for black women’s gymnastics, the self –esteem of young black girls by winning and competing than anything her hair could have ever done.

Let’s not forget, she wasn’t entering a beauty contest. The sporting arena is not the place for mascara, sophisticated updo’s , or foundation. When I go to the gym, I see crazy women applying their make-up before a work. Really? There’s a place and time for everything and the Olympics should be about sports and athleticism, not a stage for the empty, the shallow, and the self-deluded.

I am personally embarrassed for anyone who has made a negative comment about something as positive as an athlete winning an Olympic gold medal regardless of the hair style, race or religion. Gabby Douglass ,forgive them! For they know not what they say!


1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on Kink Of Curls and commented:

    When Hair Obsession Has Gone Too Far

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