Home > Sports, Women > Golden Gabby: Dream Realized, New Dreams Born

Golden Gabby: Dream Realized, New Dreams Born

Gabrielle “Golden Gabby” Douglas stands on the podium after receiving historic gold medal

In 2012, it is a complicated time for Blacks in America. Hate speech spills out over the Internet like acid, working to burn and destroy everything in its path. A young Black man was gunned down in April for “walking while Black.” The first African-American President of the United States is disrespected by political rivals who would question his patriotism rather than challenge his policy. There are still so many of society’s peaks, political, economic and social for the Black community to reach, even for one of us, despite the fact that so many are so familiar with life’s valleys. Yes, it is a complicated time to be Black in America.

But today was simple. Today is about a young woman, named Gabrielle Douglas, who picked up the team, formerly known as the “Fab Five,” but rechristened by their hero and leader, Gabby, as the “Fierce Five,” and carried them to the peak of Olympic glory – team gold in women’s gymnastics. For the American women to win the team gold was historic, in and of itself, as it had only been done ONCE before in 1996. But for Gabby Douglas to win the team gold and the individual all-around gold…she made history twice. Not only is Gabby the first US gymnast to win the all-around gold and team gold in the same Olympics, she is the first Black woman to win all-around gold IN OLYMPIC HISTORY. Oh yes, she joins a very small sorority that consists of only four women, including Gabby, US women who have won the Olympic gold medal in the all-around competition in gymnastics.

Golden Gabby takes flight en route to her historic gold medal

Gabby competed for her gold medal in fine style, as she has through this entire competition – with fearless elegance. She took first place after the first rotation, and never looked back. She had nerves of steel, and composure of that never indicated any sense of stress or strain. She kept her cool and rose to meet her destiny and place in history, as others were faltering. She vaulted, flew, jumped, stuck those landings and gave us a smile that had enough wattage to assure us of her star power. When it was over, the Russians didn’t have enough to catch her.  Gabby was where she had been all day…ahead, but now with the gold medal around her neck.

The end of this story should be a wonderful picture of this smiling, excellent 16-year old who sacrificed her childhood in pursuit of her dream. She can leave London with more hardware since she qualified to compete for medals on the uneven bars and the balance beam.

But there are two other stories to be told with the Gabby Douglas story. I hate to bring it up on a day that should be about this wonderful girl’s achievement.  Both of these other issues tell us something about us, about America – media and hair.

First, I was intrigued by how the media virtually ignored Gabby after the team won the gold. Any other storyline of the Fierce Five was more compelling to the media than Gabby. The New York Times barely mentioned Gabby in their write up of the historic gold medal win, instead choosing to focus on a young woman who didn’t make the cut. Yes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As a Black person, your excellence must be that much more outstanding than your white peer’s, otherwise, it will not be deemed noteworthy. Here is a case in point: A young Black woman has just proven her excellence to the world on the Olympic stage, and the camera couldn’t find her, reporters’ words barely mentioned her.  This fact says nothing about whether or not Gabby is excellent, because she clearly is, but it reminds us that we have work to do with media’s coverage of positive stories of the Black community.

Gabby’s hair… Now this is one that made my blood boil. This elegant, poised, talented, excellent young woman achieved more in the past few days than most folks will in their entire lives, and folks are zeroing in on her hair? The arrow to my heart was that this stupid, useless critique was coming from the Black community. At a time when we should be looking at this young woman with pride for her achievement, some sad, small-minded folks on Facebook and Twitter can only focus on her hair. This is a mirror moment. The way that individuals in the Black community perceive Gabby Douglas says a lot about that person. This young woman has MADE HISTORY, but folks are talking about her hair. If you are focused on her hair and feeling shame, it is a reflection of your own self-loathing. If you see her achievement, hard work and poise, then I would argue that you have a better sense of pride in yourself and sense of hope for the Black community as a people. Once again, it has nothing to do with this young woman who appears to have such a very grown up sense of self, sacrifice, faith, commitment…and now joy and achievement.

Golden Gabby with her Individual All-Around Olympic Gold Medal in Women’s Gymnastics

The Flying Squirrel has transformed. She went into the Olympic crucible and came out…Golden Gabby. She peaked and flourished at the perfect time. Her reward is a place in history. Unfortunately, she also picked up some misguided haters for her troubles as well. In the world of affirmations, there is one that says, “Make your haters your motivators.”

So Golden Gabby, don’t change a thing! Just know that tonight, there are countless little black girls AROUND THE WORLD who watched you and now believe that they can become an gold medal winning Olympic gymnast. You gave these girls an incredible gift.

Golden Gabby, from the realization of your dream, new dreams are born.

Copyright 2012
Kimberly S. Jones

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  1. Janel
    August 3, 2012 at 5:13 am

    I LOOOOOOVE this young woman!! The first time I saw her I said “Oh my God, I LOVE her!” I love her itty-bitty ness. I love her Big Smile. I love her hair. I love her little muscle legs. I ABSOLUTELY love and adore her confidence. I’m impressed by the way she’s handled the Nay Sayers. And I’m excited to meet her one day, so I can tell her just how PROUD I am of her!

  2. Cecily
    August 3, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Bravo! Excellent post for an inspiring leader.

  3. Duane Deterville
    August 4, 2012 at 4:01 am

    Excellent post and your point about this being a “mirror moment” is absolutely correct. In the face of such obvious young charismatic poise and talent a certain segment of our black community focused on their own damaged sense of self and projected their pathology on to Gabby Douglass. This is a moment that should be unpacked repeatedly until true healing is manifested for the folks who indecently criticized something as trivial as this young woman’s hair rather than focusing on how her dazzling work ethic has manifested greatness before the entire world.

  4. August 4, 2012 at 6:50 am

    I am extremely inspired with your writing talents and also with the structure on your weblog. Is that this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice high quality writing, it’s uncommon to see a great blog like this one nowadays..

  5. Marketta Fuller-Steele
    August 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    I have quiet tears for my 55~year old self and my 5 children ages 18 to 33. I am SO PROUD AND ELATED about Gabby. I was that generation taught to be twice as good. I am treated one way on the phone because my diction and soft voice doesnt “match”my skin tone. Then they see my face and make excuses to explain why something changed. I was also girl with “all that hair” don’t know how to wear it. Because it didnt look like theirs…which had been cut off or bought in store. Thank God for the older ones in Virginia and my grandmothers in West.Virginia

  6. August 4, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this website. He was once totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not consider simply how so much time I had spent for this info! Thank you!

  7. Pastor Poullard
    August 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Thank you for the article. My heart was made glad through this precious young lady ~ I was so glad my own daughters had a chance to witness this historic moment. I so appreciated her excellence; in her routines, her charm and demeanor, and how she conducted herself during interviews. I felt such joy in my heart to see her cheer for others ~ never displaying any envy at the successes of others. Even when she did not medal on the uneven bars her positive optimistic sincere demeanor made my heart smile so much so it overflowed on my face. I would love to embrace this young lady and let her know how she moved more heart to joy than can ever be counted. I’m glad for her and for her family ~ especially for her mother!

  8. Eric
    August 9, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Do not continue to give voice/attention to this minority — eventually, our culture will render them, and moreover their view of the world, fundamentally irrelevant. The majority of people who witnessed this ecliptic moment and can celebrate it for what it truly was will carry the day. Unfortunately, many in the Black community have a ways to go.

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