Gabby Douglas, Brown Gel, and Black Women

Gabby Douglas just became the first African-American woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics. When I heard the news, I was overjoyed. Betty Okino and Dominque Dawes were two black gymnasts that I grew up watching and admiring.

You see, I was a gymnast as a child. While I didn't reach the athletic achievements that these Black women did, I did pretty well for myself. I didn't have the money and I started out too late to even dream of making it to the Nationals.

Gymnastics is a grueling sport. It is very hard on the body. These women have short and athletic frames, meaning that they were built for the sport. When I went to practice, the last thing that I worried about was how my hair looked. A simple ponytail and a bun was all that was needed. Do swimmers care about having their hair done? Track and Field runners? It really doesn't even cross your mind that much. When you are running towards the vault or swinging on the parallel bars, some elaborate hairstyle will do nothing but get in your way.

These women sometimes defy laws of gravity as their graceful bodies fly through the air. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

When Ms. Douglas took home the gold medal for the United States, I'm sure standing on that platform, listening to our country's anthem, with tears rolling down her eyes; the LAST thing she was thinking of was a press and curl.

Black women...let's get it together! It's bad enough that the world looks down on us for something totally out of our control. Do we really need to place our insecurities on others? Do we have to tear other women down? Does that make you feel good about yourselves? Are you aware of the struggle and the money it takes for a gymnast to even reach the heights that this young lady has accomplished? Many parents take out two mortgages on their homes, work extra jobs, and uproot an entire family just so the gymnast can be close to her training facility.

Thankfully, Ms. Douglas didn't give up and she has accomplished the dream that many girls in the world have dreamed of. I know it was my dream. Watching Mary Lou Retton score a perfect ten on the Vault in 1984 sent my heart soaring. I wanted to be her so bad.

Perhaps more black women will stop worrying about "sweating out their hairstyles" and become more active. Perhaps more black girls will be motivated to join the prestigious sport of gymnastics. I loved every minute of it. But as a disabled thirty-two year old woman, I can never turn back the hands of time. But I would encourage any other child, regardless of color, to join the sport of gymnastics.

Put your priorities in perspective. Worry about your own hair and life before you decide to bring someone else down.

To Gabby Douglass: You're beautiful. Thank you for inspiring me to go after my dreams. You will inspire a new generation of little girls that want to learn to fly in the air just as you do.

Thank you.


Popular Posts