Friday, August 3, 2012

Who questions black's patriotism?

Gabby Douglas has become the first African American woman to win the gold medal in the all-around gymnastics.

Bob Costas, who gives summaries after most medal wins, gave one about her, and now a few folks - bloggers - are excoriating him.

(I find the Yahoo news site very disingenuous. It's set up like it's an actual article from an actual news writer, but all it is is an op-ed from "Yahoo Voices" - the folks who took over Associated Content.

Anyway, the author of this particular piece said the following at the beginning of her piece:

The White World of Sports
Late last night, minutes after NBC aired the much-anticipated cuticle-picker that was the Olympic women's all-around gymnastics finals—hours after the event actually took place, of course—the broadcast director cut from an on-floor interview with gold medalist Gabrielle Douglas to a broadcast booth somewhere nearby. In it sat longtime NBC commentator and sports journalism veteran Bob Costas, his prime-time-friendly, man-child hairdo in perfect position.

"You know, it's a happy measure of how far we've come that it doesn't seem all that remarkable, but still it's noteworthy, Gabby Douglas is, as it happens, the first African-American to win the women's all-around in gymnastics," Costas intoned, his besuited left elbow resting comfortably on the anchor desk. "The barriers have long since been down, but sometimes there can be an imaginary barrier, based on how one might see oneself."

In a political and cultural environment in which the patriotism—the very Americanness—of people of color (including the current president of the United States) is often called into question, Costas's scripted deep thought—his "little homily,” as one Twitterer called it—was at worst dishonest, at best naive. What leveled barriers, I wondered, was Mr. Costas referring to? Who, excepting the most Pollyanna-ish or cloistered of cultural observers—the type who assert the legitimacy of phrases like "post-racial"—would believe that Gabby Douglas' challenges were primarily psychic, a statement that can be contradicted by pretty much any news story or feature profile on the 16-year old gymnast, all of which make no secret of the undeniable whiteness of being that is high-level American gymnastics? "Bob Costas just re-affirmed that the success of a black person means we're not racist anymore. THANK GOD THAT'S OVER," wrote the political writer Ana Marie Cox. A few moments later she offered a revision of sorts: "Ok what he said was 'a barrier has fallen' or somesuch but one person over the wall does not a fallen barrier make. TAKES NOTHING FROM GABS."

So women's gymnastics is all white? Whose fault is that? There's one black swimmer on the men's swim team, one black gymnast on the male gymnast team.

Is that the fault of white folk? I don't think so.

How many white players are on the basketball team? When football becomes a part of the Olympics - and Roger Goodell is trying to make that happen - how many white players will be on that team?

How many white athletes are on our track and field team?

The author of the piece above, and others writing about Gabby Douglas, are getting their knickers in a twist for no good reason.

Yes, we've come a long way, baby. There's plenty of racist individuals out there - of all colors - but a person going into a business has more chance of being discriminated against if he's gay rather than black - even from blacks!

Why would black girls want to be gymnasts when you have to starve yourself all the time, and live no sort of personal life, when they could be runners instead? A lot easier on the ankles and knees, I'd wager. Or basketball players?

There are no shortage of black American athletes out there. To pretend that Gabby Douglas "broke a barrier" - what barrier did she break? There was no "barrier" to her becoming a gymnast, except whether or not she had the talent and desire to do so. Since she did, she achieved her dream, as any African American girl can do these days.

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