The racial divide in this country is deeper than even Gabby Douglas can surmount (Gabby Douglas’s Hair Foibles at London Olympics: Editor’s Notebook, Aug. 8, 2012).
Controversy about the Olympic gold medalist spread faster than a pandemic this week after negative Tweets surfaced about her ponytail and hair texture on Twitter. The ruckus has provoked lingering conversations about race.
Some people seem to think that race should be completely stripped from conversations about Douglas, who is the first African-American gymnast to win a gold medal in the all-around. She’s an American hero, they say. Leave her race out of it. But, race isn’t something Douglas can take off and on like her medals.
“When you’re ‘America’s Sweetheart’ like Douglas, the topic of race is to be swept back in a ponytail. But when you are President Barack Obama, race is inextricable.”
The ugly truth is that calling attention to being an African-American in this country gets the most play when the rhetoric is decidedly negative and is about crime, welfare or politics. When you’re “America’s Sweetheart “like Douglas, the topic of race is to be swept back in a ponytail. But when you are President Barack Obama, race is inextricable.
Gabby Douglas is an inspiration to all Americans, but especially to the young African-American girls who now see her accomplishment as a possibility for themselves. That is why African-Americans herald Douglas’s victory.
The troubling question is: Why does that seem to bother so many people?
– Dana L. Boone, Des Moines, IA