The incredibly racist, right-winged morning show on the classic rock channel I listen to was discussing the Olympics, as everyone is these days. And they got to the point where they wondered why Gabby Douglas’ race was a factor in her winning the gold. The Olympics puts countries against one another. The cultural background, or identifying race of the person that won shouldn’t matter whatsoever. An American won. We’re American. We cheer. Why did Bob Costas have to mention that she was the first African-American woman to win all around? Why do people use the phrase “African-American” when it’s not true? What do they call black people in England?
And then I changed the channel, but they did have valid points.
My Twitter and Facebook feeds were going nuts about Gabby Douglas winning. And about her hair. And about how she’s a 16 year old athlete we shouldn’t be discussing the issues of her hair. And while you haters were talking about her she was winning gold. Granted, I never saw anyone actually say anything negative about her hair but I don’t LIVE on the internet (I just visit all day) so I might have missed that tidbit of gossip. And then I swear every black woman I know was posting pics of Gabby winning. Like she is me and she represents all of black womankind. Bye Oprah! We don’t need you we got Gabby Douglas. And then they all started singing I’m Every Woman (CHAKA KHAN!).
I get the nature of the Olympics. It pits one country against another to see who comes out the victor. And if nothing else it gets you amped up and slightly patriotic. Plus nothing else is on TV so what else are you going to tweet about. I really got into it this year and can *almost* understand the appeal of live tweeting those ridiculous award shows everyone gets into. I’m sitting on the couch all USA! USA! We kicked y’all’s asses China. Suck on that England. Get to getting Nigeria, learn some damn defense!
But it kinda took a turn when Gabby Douglas won. Is her race a factor? Is it a big deal that we are STILL having the first black person to do ANYTHING? We’ve only been over in this country since the shit started and we still haven’t done all there is to do. I get it. It is a big. But as a black woman can I take credit for anything Gabby Douglas has done? No way. Yet it seems like a lot of people have adopted the “WE president” notion (see: Chris Rock’s standup). When a black person succeeds, we ALL succeed.
But do we?
Do we reserve the right to take credit for one person’s achievements because they share the same heritage we do? If that’s the case then shouldn’t we all take responsibility for each other’s shortcomings?
Generally the phrase used to describe black people’s mentality towards each other is “crabs in a barrel”. I’m not going to bother to explain the concept. You get it. But when someone makes it out of the barrel then what do we do? Yell at them for not helping us all get out or cheer them on for succeeding where others have failed.
I really have no answers, just ramblings and would love other opinions on the matter. And is the term African-American no longer valid in today’s “post racism” world? Whatever the hell that means. Should we take celebrate someone’s victories because they have the same background as you do? Should we take the blame for their screw ups as well? Did anyone actually say something bad about her hair? Should she be flipping around in Beyonce’ weave?!