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Gold medallist Gabrielle Douglas of the U.S. stands on the podium after the women's individual all-around gymnastics final in the North Greenwich Arena at the London 2012 Olympic Games August 2, 2012   REUTERS/Brian Snyder (BRITAIN  - Tags: SPORT GYMNASTICS OLYMPICS)
Gabrielle Douglas gets the last word in on her detractors.
Not focused.
Lacks confidence.
Can't handle the pressure.
Not ready.
Not ready.
Not ready.

These are just a few of the many negative adjectives used in the days preceding Gabrielle Douglas' historic gold medal win in gymnastics this week. Search any antecedent video and print stories about Gabby done by NBC, ESPN, the New York Times, and just about every other bastion of American journalism. It is easy to confirm that, repeatedly, these were the descriptors that always managed to be worked into any statement about her gymnastic efforts or to describe this lovely 16-year-old athletic powerhouse in comparison to her (losing) teammates on the U.S. Olympic team. Even when talking heads and pundits begrudgingly acknowledge that the speed of Gabby Douglas' rise to the top of the women's Olympic mountain was meteoric, they still cannot quite grasp how it happened or why it happened.

"The thing I love is that it makes people worry, it just shakes them up," Douglas said of beating Wieber. "They say: 'Dang, I am so shocked. I need to upgrade this and that and, oh gosh, where did she come from?'"
It seems that little credit is given to what must have been extremely hard work, to rise from a non-entity in the world of gymnastics to holding its highest female honor in just 2 years.  Little credit appears to be given to the fact that Gabby Douglas won the all-around medal precisely because she posted excellent scores on all 4 gymmastic apparatus, the balance beam, vault, uneven parallel bars and floor exercise (unlike her teammates, most of who did not even compete on all 4 and did not score as well as she did on those they did compete on).

No credit at all is given to the resilience of her poor, single, Black mother; our nation doesn't care about, let alone reward, the indomitable will and spiritual strength it takes to actually be a single Black mother in America raising four children. Or the strength it takes to allow your 14-year-old daughter, your baby, to move far far away in terms of literal and cultural distance to chase a dream. Hell, even after the team gold was won with Gabby being the highest scoring qualifier for the all around, the Today Show did a whole "Parents of the Fab 5" segment in which it not once mentioned Gabby by name, although it was sure to let us know who Jordyn Wieber's parents and Aly Raisman's parents were.  (It is Natalie Hawkins, btw, not Missy Parton, no matter how much the media is running around saying that Gabby had a white mother too.)

Hell, the haters even dissed the poor child's hairdo (the same hairdo as her teammates—and therein lies the problem.)

We all know why, if we are honest with ourselves and others.

If there is any place in popular women's Olympic sports that has earned the name "The White World of Sports", it's women's gymnastics.

It's not like she's the first Black woman, though, to excel at this awesome sport.  

If you want to name someone that even came close to rivaling the all-around greatest the sport of gymnastics has ever seen in terms of skill, shrewdness and personality (the ethereal Nadia Comenici), it isn't Jordyn Wieber you need to talk about. It isn't Shannon Miller, part of the 1996 Magnificent Seven team that NBC waxed rhapsodic about on Friday night in a lenghty segment without once mentioning the name of the Black woman who also, like Gabby Douglas, outscored her teammates on 3 out of the 4 apparatus in the all-around.  And it isn't Mary Lou Retton either, though her personality and punch justifiably left her beloved after the 1984 Olympics in which she took the all-around. It isn't even Shannon Miller, the woman who was the Jordyn Wieber of the 1996 Olympic team, yet who herself ultimately had her legacy diminished because of another woman who became America's darling only because she risked lameness for the team, Kerri Shrug.

You wouldn't name any of them.  Instead, you would name a woman who at 15 scored perfect "10"s on what may have been the most athletically-demanding (aka fuckin' superb) floor routines the world has ever seen.  While still excelling at every other apparatus as well.  The woman who in 1996 became the first Black woman to ever win an Olympic medal for her work on an individual gymnastics apparatus:

Despite her being the only American woman to have won three Olympic gold medals and compete in different medal-winning Olympic gymnastics teams (1992, 1996 and 2000), Dominique Dawes is remembered now only to those whose love for the sport of gymnastics is never-ending. Dominique Dawes was the only woman on the American gymnastics team in 1996 to have had her scores from all four events counted rather than thrown out in the team event that earned "The Magnificent Seven" America's first team medal in women's gymnastics. She electrified the world and, for a short time, America too, with her sheer beauty and talent and joy in the sport even as a young girl. Yet today Dominique Dawes is not a wealthy gymnastics coach and few who do not know gymnastics know her name. She is not even a regular news commentator on the sport she too elevated with her grace and beauty—and fierce athletic prowess. Had the Obama Administration (thank you Michelle!) not lifted her up and allowed her to continue to publicly inspire, it seems she would be today making most of her living as a motivational speaker. Largely forgotten.

Except how can you forget something like this? Who would even WANT to?

Dominique Dawes should be a household name in our country, just as Gabby Douglas should have been before she ever set foot in London last week. But she isn't. Just as Gabby wasn't, until folks literally had the choice between looking like public fools and acknowledging that yes, this year she is the best America had to offer in one of the world's most beloved women's sports.  

Overachieving Black women are everywhere. In every profession. In every field. Many of them should be household names given their impact on their fields and our world. Yet too many aren't, especially when compared to their Black male and white female counterparts.

Yet most Americans don't even know their names. Sure, they all know Oprah, and Halle Berry. Tyra Banks, Aretha Franklin, Missy Elliot and Michelle Obama. Celebrities, although these women too had to be strong and smart and talented to make it where they have.  

But what about all these other women whose biographies and work legacies are a testament not just to the best that Black women have to offer, or Black people have to offer, but people have to offer? Here is just a handful of their overachieving names. All of these best of the best of the best Black women are known by far fewer Americans than their way-beyond-normal intellect and talented biographies would suggest is and was their due.

  • In Law: Hon. Constance Baker Motley (be sure to click on the Congressional Resolution upon her passing—but leave yourself plenty of time to read about her LONG list of accomplishments)
  • Journalism: Charlayne Hunter-Gault
  • Economics: Dr. Julianne Malveaux
  • Space: Dr. Mae Jemison (who came to The Farm as a 16-year-old freshman and who gets bonus points for being one of the best, most intense, dancers I've ever shared a Stanford reunion party space with!)
  • Medicine: Dr. Patricia Era Bath (opthamologist, surgeon and inventor)
  • Science: Dr. Dale Brown Emeagwali (Microbiology) (who doesn't even rank have a Wikipedia page in her honor, let alone the tenured position at an elite science institution that would have otherwise clearly found her given the nature of her discoveries)
  • Even Fashion: Iman (not to mention the business of fashion, with a respectable side of global philanthropy just to mix it up a little.)

These remarkable women all have at least one thing in common with Gabrielle Douglas, who folks are running around today calling "America's golden girl" (with the incongruity of this completely lost upon them given that she is dark, and lovely) or the "flying squirrel" (a moniker allowing for some really weird flights of fancy:  are we talking about a flying rodent? Rocky as in Rocky the flying squirrel? Something else? What on earth was Marta Karolya's reasoning behind this moniker, as opposed to others far less susceptible to negative connotation?)

None of them have received the national (as in American) recognition, the 'household name' status to which their biographies and histories indicate they are and were due. Status based not upon their status of being various types of"firsts", but instead because their names in any non-racist, non-sexist world, would truly be some of the first that come to mind when you think of the 'best of the best.'
Even Black women that the Left hates haven't gotten the due that their biographies would have seemed to earn them.

For example, one of the most hated Republican women on the planet (with very good reason) may be Condoleezza Rice. Condi's low standing in the "moral politicians" category is not definitely undeserved and this diary makes no efforts to rehabilitate her political image. That being said, however, much she is hated an honest person still has to ask why her star hasn't shined far even more brightly in Republican politics. Her resume makes clear that she not only has done extremely well in politics, she has excelled academically and personally and accomplished things that no one but her own parents ever expected her to, like enrolling in college at the age of 15, becoming a world expert in the (then) complicated Soviet political science, managing to balance the budget of Stanford University in less than 2 years as Provost when all the men said it couldn't be done, and being a piano virtuoso on top of it. More significantly, Condoleeza Rice has been everything the right has asked for, the ultimate "hard work is all you need" and "racism is no excuse" story, and then some. Yet the idea of her being "at the top" appears to be the farthest thing from anyone's mind in the Republican party. This is despite Condi's own tacit recognition that as a Black woman she is, in fact, just as qualified to be president (more so, much as she is hated) than the men whose water she has carried as the closest thing she will ever get to being anything with the word "president" in it during her lifetime:

My parents had me absolutely convinced that, well, you may not be able to have a hamburger at Woolworth's but you can be president of the United States.
Despite her life story, in which she too has acknowledged the perennial curse of Black womanhood ("we have to be twice as good") despite her skill as a pianist, decades-long cuddly relationship with the echelons of power on the right wing as an extremely young scholar, and the unwavering recognition that she has had for her intellect, to the point despite the calls that Romney to nominate her as his VP pick, she still hasn't gotten "the call" so far as we know (although considering how badly things are going for the Mittster right now, you have to wonder why).

[For the record, this may be the only time that anyone should be grateful that Black women are as used, absued and forgotten as we are: because if Condoleezza Rice had been recognized for what she is intellectually and ended up on the ticket in 2008 instead of the world class ignoramus known as Sarah Palin, the election could have gotten a lot more complicated for now-President Obama.]

Why does the plight of Gabby Douglas and Dominique Dawes, and other Black elite athletes (including Venus and Serena Williams, who originally suffered equal indignities in terms of disrespect and dismissal on both their Black front and woman front—i.e. the number of times both have been called "ugly" is uncountable—despite their clear prowess in their field) even matter? Why should we care, that Black women in other fields who were not just good, not just noteworthy, not just excellent, but brilliant and/or talented almost beyond measure, were largely forgotten? After all, isn't this just part of our nation's racist sexist legacy that we've talked about a billion times?

It is. But in an election year where the nation is (hopefully) going to reelect its first Black president, it is important even more because their plight is mirrored in the political realm, too.

The invisibility of Black women's political and electoral strength has resulted in, at a minimum a failure to harness the maximum political power on the Left. If not a number of missed opportunities for the Democratic Party and the nation to be in charge.

Chart showing demographic participation in 2008 election, from Dissecting the 2008 Electorate, Pew Research Center
For example, very little is written about the fact that President Obama owes his election in large measure to the historic levels of turnout of Black people—especially Black women, who had the highest voter turnout for the 2008 election of any other measured demographic.  

It is easy to say, "Well, duh." After all, a Black man was running for president that year. At least, it is easy until you realize that Black women's electoral power has been ignored for a long, long time. And realize that some were desperately trying to get people to pay attention to this crucial yet ignored demographic of the left long before anyone had ever heard of Barack Hussein Obama.

Who knows what might have been our nation's present had someone only been listening in the year 2000 when it was pointed out that Black women's votes had been the difference that catapulted "the first Black president" William J. Clinton into the White House in 1992 and returned him there in 1996?

The missed opportunity that to me is the greatest price our side of the aisle may have paid by ignoring the political engagement, prowess and genius of Black women in the political realm is the missed opportunity we had nearly 40 years ago, now: to recognize that the greatest female politician in the history of the United States, one who could have united this nation and helped it along towards its perfect vision in a way that few other politicians could have, was a woman named Barbara Charline Jordan.

We lionize Barbara Jordan today on the left for eloquently baring her soul before Congress about the Constitution in 1974. Yet did our party even seriously consider the idea of putting her on the ticket with Jimmy Carter in 1976 even though her "consolation prize," the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, is considered one of the top five American political speeches of all time (not to mention to her statement to Congress introducing the articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon in 1974, which ranks at Number 13—higher than any other woman)?

[Good luck finding Barbara Jordan's entire address to the 1976 DNC convention or entire speech to Congress, btw. As perhaps some of the best evidence of Black woman's invisibility, only the first 25-50 percent of the first and at best 2/3 of the latter appears to be available in either video or audio form anywhere. The 5th and 13th greatest American political speech of all time are thus relegated to the cold record of text—if you can find them.]

If only we'd lifted her up, when it was her time, to more than just a side player in the national show.

Neither did our party even remotely consider rallying behind Shirley Chisholm, despite her run for the presidency in 1972, Jordan's predecessor when it came to being a viable national politician. An almost-as-tragic error in judgment.

Today, we celebrate that Barack Hussein Obama is the nation's first Black president. But we should also listen to Barbara Jordan's speeches (or Shirley Chisholm's) and ask ourselves the following question:

Why wasn't she?

[For those who would contend that the fate of Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm, both of who should have using the ideal indicators of political success (vision, diligence, intellect, and eloquence) been serious contenders for major office including the presidency itself, was merely an artifact of those "ancient" times when both race and gender were disqualifiers assumed to be valid by everyone, I will add another name to the list of Black female political powerhouses that has been largely ignored by the left when it comes to lifting her up, mentioned these days only when it's convenient: The Hon. Barbara Lee. And another: The Hon. Eleanor Holmes Norton.]

It seems that the only consistent reward of elite Black womanhood that can be taken from these stories, arguably is the double-whammy: being dissed, dismissed and/or quickly rendered obscure and forgotten due to the toxic stew of gender intersecting with race. Neither of which operates independently and thus, neither of which can be minimized in the way it can for white females who can choose never to talk about their gender or Black males who can choose never to talk about their race. Even when there is not outright rejection due to race, it seems that greatness is met with only begrudging acceptance. No matter what field or discipline. And if a Black woman does not choose to fit herself into one of the prescribed acceptable categories for Black womanhood (Mammy, Sapphire, Jezebel or Cassandra)?

Be prepared to be forgotten.

Gabrielle Douglas was none the things she was called before she won the ultimate gymnastics prize, and at least before she showed up folks in a way that could not be ignored, was indeed paying the price of being forgotten before she'd even been known. Dissed, dismissed, and trifled.

What does it say when her own team coordinators Bela and Marta Karolyi, considered the gods of gymnastic coaching, even a few weeks before the Olympics began, were saying that their own team's athlete did not have what it took to be an Olympic champion? What does it say about them that it was all about Jordyn, Jordyn, Jordyn. Even when Gabby proved at the America's Cup and the Olympic trials that she was better than Jordyn. Jordan was like Nadia, they said (even though Gabby's physical form and artistics evoke Nadia's memory far more directly)—she was unbeatable.  Jordan was like Mary Lou Retton, they said—even though Retton's high energy and irrepressible personality is far more like Gabby's and Jordyn has to by her own admission basically practice looking happy in the mirror.   Who could be surprised then, that the media happily followed this narrative of Jordyn good, Gabby mediocre?

Most of the mainstream media in America said it all, little of it good, until Gabrielle Douglas finally shut them up.

But had they only been paying attention to Gabby's heroine, Dominique Dawes.  Somehow NBC missed selecting Ms. Dawes when it was hiring famous gymnasts to give live commentary during the Olympic Games.  The sad irony is that FOX Sports (aka FOX News) did not make that mistake, with the result that a full month before Gabrielle Douglas became the first gymnast to win both a team gymnastics gold medal AND the all around gold medal at the same Olympics, the two greatest Black women in the history of gymnastics got to meet each other and have a bit of a lovefest:

That's right, it is that bastion of journalistic anti-racism, FOX News, that first realized that Gabby was something special despite the never-ending Jordyn (and, rarely, Aly) show.  A full month before the joy that both Dawes and Douglas probably knew deep down was coming when Gabby finally competed in London.

The joy that has had Dominique Dawes reduced to tears ever since.

It says a lot (but nothing good) about our nation that, at only 16 years old, Gabrielle Douglas seems to have figured out the silent power inherent in her status of being initially ignored and dismissed by the American media as a superstar because she is Black and female. Ignored and dismissed until folks had absolutely no choice at all:

I have an advantage because I’m the underdog and I’m black and no one thinks I’d ever win,” she said. “Well, I’m going to inspire so many people. Everybody will be talking about, how did she come up so fast? But I’m ready to shine.
And, as is too often the case, the white person who had the most to lose from ignoring her simply dismissed it all:  
But so far, Wieber doesn’t seem shaken. Asked what it felt like to lose to Douglas, she seemed perplexed.
But shine Gabby did. Without fervent support from the very places she had a right to expect support from—her country's media, and her own team coordinators. Perhaps this is because Gabby Douglas used the fact that she was dissed and dismissed, like so many other Black women before her, to her advantage when it really mattered. So, in her success once again for a brief period of time it is all that to be the best of the best and a Black woman at the time same.

But already Gabby's star seems to be dimmer than it otherwise might be. It has been only 36 hours and looking at the media, it already feels like old news. Certainly, Gabby is no longer top of the fold. Instead, it's back to same old same old: Michael Phelps (and Ryan Lochne). It seems that even though Mary Lou Retton adores her, she won't be the next Mary Lou Retton, who was the subject of 24-7-365 coverage for days and weeks after she took gymnastics gold in 1984. We can even pretty much guarantee that Gabby will not become the next Tim Tebow, darling of the right wing, despite her fierce embrace of Christianity (which doesn't make her all that different from many Black folks who reach success do) and despite the fact that thanking God was the first thing Gabby publicly credited for her triumph in London. You would think that Gabby's heartfelt assertion that "It's a win-win. All the Glory is given to God and all the blessings fall down on me" would make her leading story in the Christian Science Monitor or something—but don't hold your breath. To be sure, someone has already edited "Conservapedia" to include Gabby after yesterday, but it wasn't until yesterday although she's always been clear and public about her spirituality. Even then, Conservapedia was very careful to simply say that she has taken a "conservative or religious" position (as if those are synonymous), just in case she turns out to need to be ignored later because of some equally likely political views that don't quite favor the right wing.

At least for now, we can look forward to enjoying the brightness of her electric smile while we have our morning breakfast. And for the future? Let's hope that our appreciation for her and what she does lasts a lot longer for Gabrielle Douglas than the memory of other, great, Black women in America's history  

Who are calm and confident.




And deserving of the recognition their talents have earned.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges, RaceGender DiscrimiNATION, and Black Kos community.

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  •  Tip Jar (379+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hunter Huxley, Denise Oliver Velez, kestrel9000, AnnieJo, Remediator, wilderness voice, koNko, MikeBoyScout, jessical, Winston Sm1th, David54, shaharazade, therehastobeaway, gulfgal98, Rona, sidnora, qua, MichiganChet, chemborg, litho, LynChi, nomandates, CanyonWren, tb mare, Mylies Voice, BruceMcF, Keone Michaels, DemFromCT, Julie Gulden, FiredUpInCA, TexDem, Paddy999, owlbear1, BigVegan, jck, annecros, ExStr8, Lilyvt, arizonablue, Chitown Kev, profundo, Avilyn, anafreeka, brooklynbadboy, Vita Brevis, MartyM, VolvoDrivingLiberal, Bill in Portland Maine, Nedsdag, whoknu, Aunt Pat, satrap, Hohenzollern, gchaucer2, Polly Syllabic, Onomastic, doroma, middleagedhousewife, jnhobbs, Oye Sancho, Dave in Northridge, drofx, rhetoricus, side pocket, GainesT1958, kat herder, poco, OleHippieChick, second gen, mooshter, cfk, Joy of Fishes, mslat27, jakewaters, unclebucky, Idaho83702, deha, edsbrooklyn, MBNYC, GrannyOPhilly, ferg, tarantula, fishboots, ActivistGuy, prodigal, marleycat, TexH, shermanesq, SteelerGrrl, Gorette, The BigotBasher, Only Needs a Beat, Desert Scientist, Deadicated Marxist, freewilly, Mistral Wind, congenitalefty, StellaRay, lilsky, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, TarheelDem, Phil S 33, lineatus, bearette, zizi, mrsgoo, Diogenes2008, theKgirls, denig, RustyPatti, shevas01, ratcityreprobate, juca, Ginny in CO, DBunn, Mayfly, sea note, HamdenRice, burnt out, artisan, jkay, spooks51, HCKAD, ailanthus, eXtina, maryabein, Dem Beans, newusername, mdmslle, Earth Bear, Matt Esler, chazz509, sodalis, PurpleThistles, Friend of the court, Katzy, Azazello, leonard145b, CIndyCasella, Candide08, CayceP, Tamar, geordie, prettygirlxoxoxo, pat bunny, houyhnhnm, jbfunk, Spirit of Life, Little Flower, afisher, ask, myboo, Mr Stagger Lee, SanFernandoValleyMom, MrJersey, BeninSC, Kane in CA, northerntier, alnep, Wildthumb, 2thanks, Orinoco, Just Bob, Audio Guy, Over the Edge, parryander, DaveinBremerton, implicate order, MinnesotaMom, dtruth, OjaiValleyCali, Lorikeet, kimo, klnb1019, Pithy Cherub, regis, Lost and Found, gramofsam1, zooecium, beltane, SoCalLiberal, TracieLynn, Bule Betawi, markdd, Lorinda Pike, johnosahon, evilhoodedcrow, northsylvania, sap, thomask, jjellin, Little Lulu, Mnemosyne, stellaluna, laurnj, solesse413, kravitz, MaryinHammondsport, rose quartz, AlyoshaKaramazov, colleen, majcmb1, blue91, hamsisu, secret38b, old wobbly, Progressive Mom, Laura Wnderer, Black Knight, Railfan, abarefootboy, Cory Bantic, mamamedusa, Desert Rose, mapamp, goobop, freelunch, a gilas girl, DefendOurConstitution, JoanMar, Farkletoo, Carol in San Antonio, Susan G in MN, Tonatzin, dopper0189, karlpk, agrenadier, annieli, scribe, Badjuh, miscanthus, klamothe, Oracle2021, JayC, means are the ends, Ian Reifowitz, Forest Deva, luckylizard, yawnimawke, TrueBlueMajority, Dolphin99, Jim R, wu ming, arlene, whatever66, JupiterSurf, Steveningen, Meteor Blades, Vienna Blue, UFOH1, pateTX, Odysseus, AkaEnragedGoddess, pamelabrown, EclecticCrafter, OIL GUY, brn2bwild, shesaid, GreyHawk, sanglug, luckydog, asterkitty, GustavMahler, spunhard, yinn, mofembot, Phoebe Loosinhouse, Turbonerd, KayCeSF, ZhenRen, ulookarmless, weck, lissablack, Denny in Seattle, Christy1947, mali muso, Dante Atkins, NYWheeler, CA ridebalanced, gloriana, sebastianguy99, Heart n Mind, MKSinSA, political mutt, glendaw271, ponderer, kathny, brokensnowshoe, deep, StonyB, WI Deadhead, slowbutsure, samoashark, AAbshier, chrississippi, Sychotic1, Renee, Pam from Calif, DebtorsPrison, HillaryIsMyHomegirl, highfive, avahome, Jennifer Clare, RebeccaG, RainyDay, Spidey47, Maudlin, renbear, peregrine kate, wuod kwatch, GDbot, uciguy30, caliberal, awesumtenor, SaintC, anastasia p, Terri, Scottie Thomaston, belinda ridgewood, tobendaro, jeannew, Janet 707, flowerfarmer, a2nite, srelar, CuriousBoston, indres, Rooe, concernedamerican, brooklyns finest, JanetT in MD, CocoaLove, Southcoast Luna, mikidee, tonyahky, Maverick80229, langstonhughesfan, ozoozol, Joe Archaeologist, murrayewv, Sister Havana, barefoot coyote, greenbird, mooremusings, Ahianne, bakeneko, snazzzybird, cruz, blueoregon, Aji, Bridge Master, mimi, prgsvmama26, joanbrooker, jolux, science nerd, brown and blue all over, kaliope, jaysunb, madhaus, Lensy, Yellow Canary, Safina, cassandra m, BlackBandFedora, Fe Bongolan, Rolling, mikejay611, chicagoblueohio, biscobosco, Drewid, Larsstephens, Tchrldy, jam, Anjana, elfling, Militarytracy, worldlotus, boofdah

    Tips for the many Black women of distinction, athletic, intellectual or otherwise, who deserved more recognition -- in more than just words -- than usually ever receive.

    •  Life Also Gives Bitter Reminders (61+ / 0-)

      Of how much this country is STILL unable to just SEE us.

      Since of course, history is still being made.  First by Serena yesterday in her crushing victory over her opponent and securing the Golden Slam, but more ironically also by a British Black (biracial, anyway) woman, who took gold in the Women's Heptathalon yesterday but who, unlike Gabby has been her nation's darling ("The Face of the British Olympics") for months leading up to the games:

      Jessica Ennis.

      •  Yes. I doubt many people remember (46+ / 0-)

        Althea Gibson either.

        "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now". Rev. William Barber, If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:13:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Serena Williams has, I believe, (8+ / 0-)

        started a dance craze called (seriously) The Crip Walk by doing it yesterday after she won.  She seems like a fun person.

        From Neocon to sane- thanks to Obama- and Kos.

        by satrap on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:15:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Phelps is getting a lot of attention (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OleHippieChick, Cory Bantic, Tamar

        because he's going OUT. imho
        Gabby will be gaining more attention and sponsors because she's coming IN.

        "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

        by MartyM on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:28:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Don't Agree With You (11+ / 0-)

          But I don't mind being proved wrong, either.  So far, though, I don't think I am being proved wrong.

          •  one piece of this (8+ / 0-)

            which is not unrelated to race of course, is the infuriating media practice of anointing heroes before the Games begin in order to promote the games.  

            Don't get me started on showing that stupid documentary about the 1996 team one day after the 2012 all-around champion is decided...Talk about the great white shiny object ploy. (I know, not planned directly, but tone-deaf programming chief, anyone?)

            I did note something interesting today.  In another one of their canned pieces that must have been planned for months, NBC showed a mini-documentary on the impact of Olga Korbut's 1972 appearance on the sport.  The not-so-hidden underlying theme of that piece was to tut-tut about the previously predetermined nature of the outcomes prior to competitions thanks to both the Soviet machine and the politics in the Sport.  The argument was that Korbut (and more important her coach her pushed her into the limelight with that routine and her personality) managed to change that pre-determination factor.  Of course the implied comparison is that Olympic gymnastics today, and the sport of gymnastic as a whole is completely different now under the "free enterprise" system and the new rules.

            What much of the discussion of Gabby Douglas' achievement (and lack of coverage by mainstream media) does reveal is that the degrees of difference from that those "Soviet Old Days" may not be as different as folks want to congratulate themselves about.  Of course, the dynamic that's pushing it in this context isn't the same kind of nationalist politics, it's something more homegrown: the cultural and economic politics of race.

            I've been looking forward to your take on this, thanks.

            PS: While I was watching the medal ceremony on the camera was panning Gabby's very composed face, here's the incredibly shallow thought that came to my mind: I was immediately struck by how absolutely beautiful her skin was in that shot.   My very selfish response was, "man, I wish I had skin like that".   Her edges didn't bother me a bit, and as I hear that folks are discussing it, I keep thinking, "shouldn't we be glad to see someone with "edges" standing up there?  


            Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

            by a gilas girl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:21:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  To be fair... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SoCalSal, Ahianne

              Wieber got the press going in because she was the reigning world all-around champion. Those titles tend to get you attention. I also think that flying under the radar was not a bad thing for Gabby no matter how much you wanted her to get all the attention. In women's gymnastics and figure skating, the favorites tend to fall apart one way or another under the immense pressure of expectations. Gabby had the advantage of not having that pressure. Wieber had it all along with the Russians, Komova and Mustafina. All three let the pressure get to them.

              And if you are annoyed by the pre-anointing of glad that it is Phelps in the spotlight again. Because I read one too many articles declaring that Phelps was done and Ryan Lochte was the swimming hero to watch. Lochte did well. Phelps did better. So much for pre-anointing.

              •  Yeah, our media also shafted Cullen Jones (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Terri, brillig, tobendaro, shanikka, Ahianne

                He was the African American swimmer who was on the silver medal winning 4x100 freestyle relay team along with Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, and Nathan Adrian.

                Adrian led off the US relay team and put them slightly out in front and Michael Phelps gave them a huge lead after the second leg. Cullen Jones swam the third leg, and while not as fast as Phelps still maintained a sizable lead going into the final leg, but it was Lochte who was beaten down the final stretch by the French; yet afterward the NBC announcers interviewed the team and had the gall to ask Cullen Jones why he struggled in his leg of the race.

                He got shafted again by our own media when he took the silver medal in the 50m freestyle race.  NBC did a puff piece on Brazil's Cesar Cielo, who, granted, was the reigning world champion and world record holder in this event but finished with the bronze in this race, and an even bigger puff piece on Anthony Ervin, who had been out of competition for several years prior to qualifying for these Olympics and actually made the team behind Jones. He finished fifth in the event.

          •  I am disturbed by (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            the lack of coverage of Gabby today. I realize it is a few days later but the gymnastics page features Jordyn Weiber as a 'name to know' and lists her as 'world champion'. Where is Gabby as Olympic champion?

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. - Elbert Hubbard -9.62/-8.15

            by GustavMahler on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:57:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  well he got insane amount of attention in 2008 (4+ / 0-)

          so not sure that theory holds up

          "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

          by eXtina on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:55:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  but now Phelps is "Greatest Olympian in history" (0+ / 0-)

            supposedly - apparently because of the number of medals.

            "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

            by MartyM on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:12:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Grrrr (15+ / 0-)

              I almost wrote about this instead this week but fortunately didn't have to because someone far more eloquent than me did it for me, at least partially, as it relates to the person I believe is the greatest Olympian of all time:

              Jesse Owens

              (To the extent that there is anyone who could even arguably be called his equal in terms of greatest athlete, it would have been Native American Jim Thorpe

              You can tell that folks are defensive about what they know is BS -- calling Phelps the greatest Olympian ever -- because Bob "Idiot in a Suit" Costas went on and on the other night first admitting that their giving this label to Phelps (an extraordinary swimmer, who I am not trying to diss in any way, shape or form) was offensive then spending 45 more seconds arguing why even if it was offensive, they were sticking with it anyway.

              •  I think the corporate media is also lazy (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ferg, eXtina, Odysseus, mali muso

                It's easier for them to base the claim on quantity of medals instead of other factors.  It doesn't require knowledge or judgment.  But what they miss with their quantitative method are factors like:

                1) Not all sports provide an athlete the chance to go for 6-8 medals/contests in one year.  Swimming provides a large number of contests that a swimmer can be capable of cross training to compete in.  A lot of opportunities are team events.

                2) Some sports require skills and physical conditioning such that over a period of 8 years an athlete can stay competitive.  Some sports seem to have narrower age ranges for the participants.

                So they remind us every 30 minutes about Phelps.  But they don't speak to how swimming has probably always been the big medal count due to the structure of the competition.

                I don't disparage Phelp's great wins.  I just want other athletes to get more air time.

                In past Olympics though I always loved watching Edwin Moses and Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  

                I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

                by Satya1 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:26:04 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Eh. (0+ / 0-)

                I'd say Emil Zatopek beats the heck out of Jesse Owens. 5K, 10K, and Marathon? In one Olympics? And a 10K gold and 5K silver in the previous Olympics? That's friggin' super-human.

                Problem with Jesse Owens is that Carl Lewis eclipsed him. Did the same 4 golds at one Olympics, then came back for more. Nobody's ever come close to Zatopek.

                As for Phelps, hey, he has won the most medals in history. Yes, he's in a sport that makes it easier to win multiple medals, but nobody else has done it. I honestly think that Zatopek's 3 in '52 is more impressive than Phelps' 8 in 2008, but 8 is still stunning. Greatest Olympic swimmer in history? Hands-down.

                "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

                by ChurchofBruce on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 05:23:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Jesse Owens (0+ / 0-)

                  Won 4 gold medals in the 1936 Olympics, as opposed to Zatopek's 3.  Owens took the gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay as well as one for an entirely different sport - the long jump.  He did it while having to train and endure adverse training conditions faced by nobody on the team due to Jim Crow.  And he did it surrounded by a crowd that was not exactly cheering him on; quite the opposite.

                  His reward for becoming the face that proved Aryanism wrong? Being snubbed (unlike other American athletes) by everyone from the President on down.  And being stripped of amateur status because he wanted to return the US to look into some of the commercial opportunities his victory had earned him rather than travel to Sweden for anothe competition.  Which, of course, ended any athletic career that he could have possibly had after the 1936 games.

                  Now, Zatopek may have prevailed in his events and I don't dispute his prowess.  But put him under the same brutally racist conditions as those faced by Owens and then it might become clear to you why in my mind it's not even a close call.

                  BTW, I think a strong case can be made that Miruts Yifter was a better long-distance runner, since he not only also took 2 golds in 1980, he was not only older that Zatopek, but practically older than Jesus practically when he did it.

                  •  Czechoslovakia in 1952 was not (0+ / 0-)

                    exactly paradise, especially for a guy who liked to flap his gums as much as Zatopek :). Most of his troubles happened after his athletic career, but he did have them. (He supported Prague Spring--his life was not so pleasant afterwards.) Does that compare to what Owens went through? HELL, no. Not by a long shot. But Zatopek was not the usual pampered white guy :).

                    The reason I elevate Zatopek is that he's done something that not only had never been done before, it's also never been done since, and I don't believe it ever will be. Yes, Yifter was older (although nobody knows exactly how old!) but, still, you take what Yifter did...and then add a gold in the marathon? I don't care how old you are. I don't care what color you are. The guy ran 60 kilometers (the 5K had two rounds) over the space of a week and won three gold medals. Never ever done by anyone else ever. And, as an added kicker, that was his first marathon.

                    We're not going to agree on that one, and, believe me, I completely respect your opinion. I don't believe there's a "right" answer here. However, I have a question: is the Jim Crow thing the only reason you'd have Owens over Carl Lewis? (I ask because I'd pretty much have them tied for second.)

                    "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

                    by ChurchofBruce on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:43:09 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  It will be interesting to see (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MartyM, Tamar

              if Phelps can make the transition to "normal" life after the adulation of the Oluympic pool.

              Yes, he's wons loads of medals -- and all praise to him and the single mother who raised him -- but I always wonder how they'll transition to post-fame life. Some do, some don't.

              "This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it." -- Eeyore

              by Mnemosyne on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:41:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah the "Greatest Olympian in history" is lame... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The number of medals thing is really ridiculous.  I'll grant that Phelps is the best swimmer, but the number of medals doesn't make him the best Olympian.  He competed in swimming where there are a lot of events, and where your talent can cross over to numerous different events.  Swimming is one of the only places where it's even possible to win 8 medals.  The only other place I can see it happening is Track and Field, but the dynamics of the races change so much once you go beyond 400 meters (even going 200 to 400 meters) that it's not really likely you'll be able to win that many golds.  

              It's not like they do a sprint, then a wheel barrow race, a hand walking race, etc.  It's just one type of race, and the only difference is the length.  Meanwhile in swimming they have a bunch of different strokes at various lengths.  

            •  Kind of silly, given the fact that (0+ / 0-)

              there are many more events in which he can compete and win than there are for others.  A soccer player gets to play with the team.  He or she gets a chance to win only one medal.  

            •  Number of medals is a phony stat (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              because it narrows the field of contenders to a small group of sports that award multiple medals. It would only be fair if gymnastics awarded medals for each separate move or figure skating did the same for each jump or there was a medal for each tennis match. In many sports there really is only one medal you can win.

              Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

              by anastasia p on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 02:44:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  he got an insane amount of attention because (10+ / 0-)

            he did insanely well. He beat all kinds of Olympic records in terms of medals and I think he deserved that attention as Gabby also deserves it this time.
            Why do we have to put down Phelps in order to praise Gabby Douglas? They're both incredible athletes who have accomplished great things. I'm always saying this to my husband and children -- you can praise someone without denigrating someone else. They are great because they are great, not because someone else isn't any good.

            We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

            by Tamar on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:44:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  the commenter was making the point that his (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              attention is coming from his imminent departure, disproven by the fact that he got all that attention last time around, when he wasn't about to depart. Whether it was deserved or not is not the point.

              "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

              by eXtina on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:03:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I know. I was just adding that the attention (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                he received for the last and this Olympics was earned by being the most accomplished swimmer in modern Olympic history.
                His medals in the 2012 Olympics would have garnered him a fair amount of attention anyway, similar to what Lochte and Franklin and Scmidt got, but combine that with his 2008 performance and record-breaking number of medals and the fact that he says this is it for him, it's not surprising that he got so much media attention.
                But I do agree with the critics who don't like the terms "greatest athlete" or "greatest Olympian" of all time. He's obviously one of the greatest swimmers of all time and he's won the most Olympic medals. Isn't that enough for the media?

                We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

                by Tamar on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:12:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Olympians are ALWAYS departing (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                eXtina, Tamar

                In many sports, the lifespan is insanely short.

                Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

                by anastasia p on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 02:46:06 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And I always worry for the athletes. They've spent (0+ / 0-)

                  so much of their time and energy on this that it must be hard to switch gears to something else. People assume that they can go into coaching, but not every good athlete can be a good coach. And some of the best coaches were not such great athletes.
                  When Georgetown U was at its height in basketball under John Thompson (the first), one thing commentators said about him was his commitment to his players doing well in school, not just in basketball. We had our house painted one summer and one of the painters was a student at Georgetown U. When I heard he was on the basketball team, I asked him about that -- he said it was true that Thompson expected all of them to take school seriously and to get good grades. He also said that even though he himself was not a star, Thompson cared about him and his future. I couldn't think of any higher praise for a coach than that.

                  We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

                  by Tamar on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 08:40:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  And Phelps has been through 3 Olympics (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          laurnj, MartyM, SoCalSal

          and, of course, amazed everyone with his performance in Beijing. His gold medals in this Olympics would have been wonderful even if he had never won the others, but together they present an unparalleled history of achievement. So that history, in addition to his statements that this is it for him, made him a huge focus.
          Gabby Douglas is brand new to the Olympics. I don't follow any of these sports (gymnastics, swimming, etc.) between Olympics so I had not heard of her or Jordyn Wieber or Aly Raisman or any of them. But her incredible performance in this Olympics and her warmth and charisma have captured a lot of hearts, certainly mine. She will be one of the lasting images of this Olympics. (I think several years from now when people talk about the Olympics, the photos will be of her and Phelps).
          Phelps never captured my heart (although my husband is a huge fan because he himself is a swimmer so he really loves swimmers) but his mother did. Another single mother, BTW, like Gabby's mother. I hope the success of many of the athletes who do not come from "traditional" families might shut up the critics of these non-traditional families. But of course, Obama's and Clinton's personal history didn't make much of a dent in their views so probably Olympic athletes won't either.

          We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

          by Tamar on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:39:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  this entire post is great work and (7+ / 0-)

        really needed saying .. . thank you :-)

      •  Jessica Ennis (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Just saw her on TV, and I looked at her hair and wondered if she is one of us. Yeah, we can spot us even when others can't.

        We are family.
        I got all my sisters with me.


      •  I see you. I see her. We are not all blind. eom (0+ / 0-)
    •  Thanks Shanikka (36+ / 0-)

      I realize that, as a black man, my experience and that of black women diverge in some ways along the male-female spectrum of inequality, but we obviously also share a sense that, generally speaking, we must work harder in order to be given the recognition you allude to.  But the more we excel, the more the world realizes, slowly, that it had us wrong all along; that the stereotypes need recalibration; and that, perhaps, the only barriers to becoming exceptional are opportunity and hard work, the former of which has been historically limited to us, but the latter of which isn't lacking in a sustained way, barring complex sociological factors too large to address in a comment.

      The good news is that with the actions of every Gabby Douglas or Barack Obama, the world subconsciously recalibrates its perceptions. And I think that's more powerful, in the long run, than anything we words we could ever say. ;)

      I believe in the long-term arc of hope.

      by therehastobeaway on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:23:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This has been the biggest part of the problem, (6+ / 0-)

        with the recalibration slow and erratic.  

        The parts we still need more emphasis on to support hard work are mostly basic. You can't work very hard when hunger is sapping your focus and energy. You don't think very well or have sustained energy if your stress levels are always maxed. You aren't likely to learn the ethic, the how or what if your parents never learned them. Inadequate medical and dental care add another lie to the idea that enough hard work will overcome anything. The frequent result of these is poor health, which has been called the most important wealth.

        Getting past those are schools that are still substandard due to financing education through local property taxes.

        I have worked with very brilliant individuals in my life, with different faiths, race, etc. There are two people who stand out in my mind from the rest. Obviously very intelligent people, just as bright as any of the others. The African American woman was a base level government worker. The Hispanic man a carpenter. Both were home care patients. Their era of birth, race, gender, location, etc, had denied both the opportunity to get the level of education that would have allowed them to self actualize their gifts.

        Every successful minority individual had opportunities that probably hundreds more did not. Even if the media do not repeat their names as they do others, many of us know them well. As you say, the world constantly recalibrates it's perceptions and some of it is very conscious. The minds of young minority children are especially important in this aspect, because they will be motivated, as Gabby was, to find or make opportunities. We have to keep working on supporting them in their aspirations with the other essentials of food, health care, reasonable financial security, safety and quality education.

        We will exceed our expectations if, like Gabby, we believe in our dream, persevere and work very hard.

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:30:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A beautiful example (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nomandates, princesspat

        of a Top Comment. Submitted.

  •  For what it's worth... (12+ / 0-)

    Every girl on the team was written off except Jordyn.  She was the one NBC clearly prepared their promo packages for...  While race may have played a factor in Gabby's dismissal, keep in mind that the other 3 non-Jordyns were ignored until Wieber didn't qualify for the all-around.

    •  I don't agree. (49+ / 0-)

      I watched every minute of the throwaway coverage.

      I'm angry with the Martha Karolyi nickname for Gabrielle  "Flying squirrel" What?

      I am highly annoyed with Forbes magazine describing her as :
      "- She seems quite articulate and energetic, further making her a great asset as a corporate spokesperson."

      Articulate - really?

      Which of the young white girls gets that description?

      "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now". Rev. William Barber, If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:11:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Surprised they didn't add, "clean." (23+ / 0-)

        Jesus K. Reist, it's all about how many BULLSHIT marketing contracts she's worth? The media are sickass fucks. Blind!

        rMoney: Just another jerk, lookin' for work.

        by OleHippieChick on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:34:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with your characterization (12+ / 0-)

        of the way "articulate" was used in the media, but I do think she was better-spoken than her teammates.  She was less nervous and she seemed to be better-prepared for her interviews. And she's smart.

        I'm annoyed along with you, though -- I'm sure that she didn't do all that hard work and make all those sacrifices so that she could be described as articulate and become an effective corporate spokesperson.

        She was wonderful, and deserves every accolade.  She worked for every single one.

        Remember. Bring them home. . "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now!" Rev. William Barber

        by edsbrooklyn on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:41:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You know, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal, belzaboo

        We were noting how much more articulate Gabby is compared to the other girls. The other girls babble in that strange platitude filled American jock-speak, whereas Gabby actually speaks in complete sentences...which is pretty rare for an athlete. So I don't know that Forbes was making a statement about race, or merely pointing out a fact of Olympic life.

        The other girls don't get described that way because, well, they're not particularly articulate.

        "'club America salutes you' says the girl on the door/we accept all major lies, we love any kind of fraud"--The Cure, "Club America"

        by Wheever on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:43:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  read the whole Forbes pice and see their (20+ / 0-)

          reasons why she won't get sponsorships.

          They don't mention her race at all. But one earlier commenter did say:

          ELEGANZA1 1 hour ago
          Gabby did a better job than people recognize. I could tell she wasn’t accepted by her fellow team members. Failure to secure lucrative deals will have nothing to do with the economy, focus on other events or her age. This is still America, and “race” is still a factor.

          "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now". Rev. William Barber, If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

          by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:51:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't know whether that argument holds water (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cks175, OrdinaryIowan, MikeNH

            The two highest grossing athletes are at least partially black.  So what does that prove?  


            If you're looking to find racism, you can find it any place.  

            In America race is still a factor, but at the same time it's possible to exaggerate how much of a factor it is, and see it playing a significant role even in places where it doesn't.  

        •  For me, the shock was not (5+ / 0-)

          articulation at all.  As a retired teacher, lack of articulation is too often the norm for kids of all races, shapes and sizes when they are in the 14 thru 17 age group.

          But I was surprised by the maturity of her voice.  Often those tiny little, young women, come with little girl voices.  Gabby is so tiny, I think I expected more of a little girl voice sound.

          Her maturity in her voice and in her articulation was a pleasant surprise because many times the younger athletes at the games do come off as girls (as opposed to young women).  Gabby, despite her wonderful enthusiasm, amazing energy, came off as the most mature of the group.

      •  I was very annoyed with (15+ / 0-)

        "the best part of that performance was that smile."  Uh, no, it was the beautifully-executed death-defying stunts she performed and all of the hard work that went into it.

        •  I assumed... (6+ / 0-)

          ...that was in reference to the dour Russians that she beat who never look like they enjoy one moment of gymnastics. Like Johnson before her, I find that aspect of Gabby's performances refreshing.

          If you watch a lot of gymnastics, you get pretty used to girls who look like they are being tortured and spend half the meet on the verge of tears. Gabby's smiles are a breath of fresh air in the sport.

        •  That of course isn't racism. (0+ / 0-)

          It's sexism. When did you last hear that said of ANY male athlete? They babble about THEIR "intensity," "resolve" and "you can see the determination in his face."

          Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

          by anastasia p on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 02:48:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  otoh, when I saw the smile in the Olympic tryouts (0+ / 0-)

          I thought to myself "this one's going all the way.  she's not afraid ".  

          It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

          by sayitaintso on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:19:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  With all the humility (8+ / 0-)

        of being a white woman, and therefore not "walking in the shoes," I find myself quite perplexed that you would be angry that Forbes called Gabby "articulate."  

        And I feel worried, because it's exactly what I said when I watched Gabby's interviews.  I didn't say, "for a black woman, she sure is articulate," and I sure wasn't thinking that.  I didn't hear that in the quote you featured from Forbes either. And I find it scary that if I had said that in front of a black person, it would have been considered racist.

        The truth is, while I was blown away by Gabby's gymnastic talent, what I saw and heard just as strongly, was her keen intelligence, spirit, and insights, and how well she could express them.

        Would I say that about a white athlete who impressed me in the same way? Absolutely. Have I heard the media talk about white athlete's in that way?  Absolutely.

        I am not making this comment to provoke or argue, but to enlarge on the conversation between black and white women.  To understand each other better.  And to suggest that sometimes people meant just what they said, without underlining currents---although I know that's too often not the case.  

        Thank you for listening.

        •  There would be nothing wrong with it in and of (14+ / 0-)

          itself, except that the word "articulate" is very, very commonly used when describing African-American people, symbolizing the assumption that a black person will generally not speak well.  That is, we don't find it noteworthy when a white is well-spoken and able to communicate intelligently. No one comments about how "articulate" Michael Phelps is. White speakers' performances are generally only considered notable when they sound like an idiot.

          •  Well, I don't consider (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            arabian, OrdinaryIowan

            Micheal Phelps that articulate, at least not up against Gabby. Not calling him a dummy, just saying he doesn't shine in that category the way she does.

            And I have to say, that the word articulate is also "very, very commonly used" when describing white people, at least in my experience.

            I am NOT suggesting that the word "articulate" hasn't been used with surprise by folks harboring racist notions.  But I didn't see this in the Forbes quote, and I know I didn't mean or think that when one of the first things I uttered aloud about Gabby was, "What an articulate young lady." The only thing I felt when I expressed this was admiration.

            •  There was actually an article in the NYT (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shanikka, mali muso, poco, CocoaLove

              several years ago discussing a study done on job interviews. It found that recruiters specifically used the word "articulate" to refer to black applicants at crazy multiples (like 50X or something) more than they would use it for whites.

              And, regardless of whatever statistical distribution it might actually have and/or how often the word is used for whites we, as non-blacks, should probably be aware that this is a word that the African-American community, rightly or wrongly, can be very sensitive to.

              Finally, I would ask you to consider whether or not your choice of the word in that instance - although I completely understand and believe you that it had no nefarious motivation - may have been influenced by the contexts in which you heard that word be used over the course of your life.  The fact that you reiterated in your last comment that there was no racial animus in your use of the term suggests to me that you're feeling somewhat uncomfortable about it.  If you are feeling uncomfortable, I'd ask you to examine the source of that discomfort.

              •  I repeat. There was no racial animus in my (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                use of the term regarding Gabby, and I don't consider saying so proof that the opposite is true.

                My discomfort lays in the idea of me, as a white woman, needing to retire the word "articulate" from my vocabulary when it comes to black people, because it will be considered racist.  

                It's a good word.  I say win back the word, don't let it be co-opted.  See my comment below.

                •  I'm quite sure that there wasn't animus (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  shanikka, poco, CocoaLove

                  but you asked what, I thought, was a legitimate question as to why some people were upset that she was being described as articulate in Forbes. I tried to clarify that for you and you seem to be getting upset when I (and to my knowledge no one else) has accused you of harboring or expressing racial animus. Seriously, ask yourself why you are getting so upset. I have no idea why and it may not even have anything to do with race, but it will probably be beneficial to you to examine it.

                  •  This is the second time (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    arabian, OrdinaryIowan

                    you've suggested I "ask myself why I'm so upset."  First of all, I'm not upset, I'm interested in having a dialogue. I have explained my feelings on this in several comments and what I hear back from you is yes, the suggestion that I need to examine my own racial issues with this.  It is disingenuous to claim you had no intent to say so.

                    I don't think anybody can claim they have NO racial issues, even you. Decent people struggle with how to bridge our cultures, how to better communicate, and how to hold themselves to the best standards they know how to when it comes to clearing themselves of prejudice. And a large part of that is understanding both points of view, and trying to find a place where they converge.

                •  This is Not about "Animus" (9+ / 0-)

                  In the traditional use of the word, i.e. deliberate anger.  This is about racism, for which animus is only one possible expression.  If one thing irks me more than any other about discussions about racism, it's whites insisting that because "intent" and "animus" aren't present, racism isn't.

                  •  THIS (8+ / 0-)
                    If one thing irks me more than any other about discussions about racism, it's whites insisting that because "intent" and "animus" aren't present, racism isn't.
                    that is worth a separate diary all its own

                    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
                    Mitt Romney is not the solution. He's the PROBLEM

                    by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:40:56 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Just to be clear (0+ / 0-)

                    I was quoting Wednesday on the use of the word "racial animus," which she used in asking me to examine myself regarding it.

                    And I agree, "that because intent and animus aren't present doesn't mean racism isn't.  But it is also true that racism isn't always there when a white person calls a black person articulate.

                    •  Unless that Black Person (5+ / 0-)

                      Is a public speaker of some type, then yes, use of that as one of the primary descriptors IS racist, IMO.  It simply is not used anywhere near as much with whites in similar positions.  We can agree to disagree on that, though - and thanks for clarifying!

                      •  So, is it correct for me to take away (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        from this conversation, that you perceive my use of the word articulate to describe Gabby, as racist?  That white people simply need to not use the word articulate to describe a black person?

                        I don't ask this in a combative way.  I understand the word HAS been used by the white culture with undertones of racism. I've stated this several times here, and it was never my intent to argue with that fact.

                        But if you and others here tell white people that it is racist for us to use the word "articulate" then many of us are going to say, well ok then, I guess we better take that word off the table to describe a black person.

                        This just makes no sense to me.  It's a good word, and white people should not own it.  Understanding how the word is perceived and used on both sides, absolutely.  And that's why I've been here for the last hour or so having this discussion.

                        Shanikka, I admired your diary and your writing here, very much.  I hope that doesn't sound racist. ;) I don't think it's so much a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, as it is of understanding. As I said in another comment, decent white folks I know, want to do the right, not hurt.

                        •  I Feel (3+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          StellaRay, TrueBlueMajority, Rooe

                          Like you are taking personally that which was not personally directed at you.  We are and were discussing an inarguable fact about racism when it comes to talking head descriptions of Black folks.  Whether or not you as an individual feel that way when you use the word is irrelevant - and I certainly wasn't thinking about you personally when I responded to you.

                          I personally don't mind being called articulate because it is part of my paying job to be articulate - if I weren't, I could not persuade folks.  But if I was someone whose greatest claim to fame was my knitting? Yeah, I'd take it as the code it was if someone was writing about me being "articulate" within that context.

                          •  Yes, (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            arabian, SoCalSal, OrdinaryIowan

                            I think there is a differentiation between what's said on the public stage, and what goes on in our day to day lives. And again, I have no argument with how the word has been used by talking heads or the media at large, or whoever on the public stage.

                            It's personal to me, in so far as what I suggested in my initial comment here---which is that after I read the comment about Forbes using the word "articulate," and also "energetic" was mentioned, I realized that's one of the things I had said about Gabby as I've gotten to know her over the last week. And therefore, would I be seen as a racist for saying so. And some here have suggested the answer is yes.

                            As I mentioned in another comment, the same can be said of other words, such as intelligent, smart, powerful, etc, that have also been used with the same sort of racial undertones.  So as I asked there, where does that lead us to?

                            Do we re-enforce the prejudice by ceding the word as an attribute to black people, or do we fight to make that word an equal opportunity word?

                            I guess I would like to hear the response be "damn right she's articulate and intelligent, what surprises you about that?"

                            Thank you for having this discussion with me. I really am working to understand, because as I said, I think this is where we start.

                          •  Some advice from another white woman and (0+ / 0-)

                            former sports writer -- take articulate out of your vocabulary. It is offensive because of how it has been used for decades, far too often implying surprise that a black person can be well-spoken.

                            And as a former sports writer let me just add that Gabby seems like a delightful interview -- the video from iowa that someone posted way up was great as were her on-camera interviews at the Olympics.

                    •  I would challenge that. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      TrueBlueMajority, shanikka

                      Because of the institutionalization of such sentiments.  I think you have to look at this from that perspective instead of your own.

                      "No, I'm being judged against the ideal. Joe Biden has a saying: 'Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." --President Barack Obama, 12/11/11

                      by smoothnmellow on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:34:33 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'm not clear on exactly what you're challenging, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        the thread has gotten a bit long, and several points have been made.  

                        But I will say this. I have many comments here on this subject and I have over and over again said that I do understand the anger, as best one who is white can, and that I do agree that the word articulate has been used with racial undertones of surprise, and that goes for a whole lot of other great adjectives.  I have not in any way denied the feelings or the points of other posters in this regard.  In short, I have absolutely looked at it from other than my own perspective.

                        And just to say yet one more time, my perspective is not that there isn't truth in the way articulate has been used with racial undertones, but that imo, the best response to that is to use that word proudly and with confidence for ANYONE who deserves it.

                  •  Sis (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    THANK YOU for breaking things down. I love this community (well, most days), but I breathe harder at comments by supposedly well-meaning liberal white people whose attempts at complimenting black people come across as patronizing.

                    Yes, we are as articulate as anyone. I don't need praise about that. Really, I don't. I rarely hear my Anglo counterparts described as such. Other adjectives are used, such as tenacious, gutsy, brilliant, determined, smart, brainy, etc. ... I'm sure you know.

                    I hope we get the same consideration as others. That's what I want, no more, no less.

                    •  Well CocoaLove, (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      that's where you don't know the white world as well as I do, being white myself.  I have heard the word "articulate" used by many a white person to describe many a white person who deserved that adjective.  It is simply UNTRUE that your "Anglo counterparts" are described as such, "rarely."

                      •  StellaRay (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        I don't know your experience just as you don't know mine. Judging by your responses in this thread, I believe you honestly did not know how condescending this is to us.

                        As a longtime journalist, I know how we develop memes and narratives. Journalists, through the media, push these ideas that often are embraced by the public at large. I've read and heard various adjectives and characteristics to describe white people, and articulate is not one of them.

                        OTHO, articulate is one I heard often to describe me and others who look like me. Most white people think I'm white in phone conversations. They are shocked as hell when they see me in person. Can't tell you how often that happens.

                        It used to bug me, but now I shrug it off. Well, maybe it does still hurt. I know I'm not the only person of African descent in this country who has a solid command of Queen's English and thinking skills. We should be better than this by now.

                        •  I have not, (0+ / 0-)

                          in any of my many comments here denied or argued with the fact that the word "articulate" has been used often with racial undertones.  In fact, I have said over and over again that I understand that it has been used as such.  I am fully aware of the patronizing quality of that word when used to describe a black person, IF the unspoken words that go with it are "for a black person."

                          I have spent a lot of time thinking about this in the last 24 hours and I think one of the misunderstandings that occurs is how people think of the word "articulate."  Some will say and use it to describe proper use of English.  But to others, like me, being articulate means more than that.  It's a gift, a way with words, a talent that people seem to either have, or not have.

                          As a writer, a life spent choosing words, I have always been impressed with people who have that gift, who put together words in an impressive and convincing way.  Gabby Douglas, at a very young age, impressed me with her ability to express herself so well.  And yes, I would absolutely say the same about a white gymnast, if it were true.

                          There are many white people who would describe the president as articulate, or a great speaker, and do so without thinking "for a black person."  There are many white people who are simply in awe of his talent with words.  Conversely, there are many white people who would tell you that Sarah Palin is not articulate, she of the "word salads."  And there are many white people who would say that Mitt Romney is not a good speaker, does not have a way with words, even though he speaks the English language quite properly.

                          You said in the comment I replied to, that white people don't use the word "articulate" to describe other white people, and you've said the same in this comment.

                          I replied that as a white person, it has not been rare for me to hear a white person call another white person articulate. In business I have been involved in the interview process, on both sides, and have heard white people refer to another white person as articulate, and sometimes inarticulate.  I have been called articulate by other white people.  I have heard white friends and family describe other white people as articulate.  And when they do, it is usually meant in the way that that person has a gift for using words in an impressive way, not that they speak the English language correctly or properly.

                          I'm going to repeat a comment I made to TrueBlueMajority further down the thread, because it best says what my point in this thread has been:

                          "To me, the whole point is to double up on the side of our better angels, to lay claim to things that are true, and never let go---one of which is that the ideals of being articulate, smart, energetic, well spoken, kind, charming, sensitive, YOU NAME IT, have no racial boundaries."

            •  I think you mean "well-spoken" (0+ / 0-)

              Now THATS a loaded word. Articulate is much less so.

            •  I don't either, yet the MSM (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              doesn't say, gee Phelps is a great athlete, but he doesn't talk all that well.  Certainly for those marketing Phelps, it doesn't matter.

              "No, I'm being judged against the ideal. Joe Biden has a saying: 'Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." --President Barack Obama, 12/11/11

              by smoothnmellow on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:20:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  And one other thing I wanted to say... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            arabian, OrdinaryIowan

            We all know words are important.  And it is imperative that we all understand each others' cultures so that we can better understand how a word can differ in its meaning from one culture to another.

            But it is imo, equally imperative that we not take words off the table that should be equal opportunity words.  Like "articulate."  In the dictionary definition of this word, it is a good thing, a compliment.  

            I don't think the solution is for white people to feel they are dog whistling when they express admiration for a black person's gift in this regard. If some misuse or abuse the word, we don't let them win the meaning of the word.

            Gabby Douglas is a very articulate young woman.  And I say that with a big hat tip.  Win back the word.

            •  If you want to "win it back" (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shanikka, TrueBlueMajority

              then perhaps you should make the effort to use it often when referring to white speakers rather than insisting it be applied to a young African-American woman when you know it can be taken poorly by members of that young woman's community in a diary about the anger many African-Americans feel (I know from my facebook friends that the diarist is not alone in her opinion) about the way that Gabby Douglas is being portrayed by the media.

              •  I use the word articulate to describe (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                arabian, OrdinaryIowan, MikeNH

                white people whenever I hear an articulate white person. And that's not all that often, as it is a gift and a talent that knows no racial boundaries.  

                I do not "insist" that it be used to describe Gabby Douglas.  I do defend the meaning of the word, and my intent when I use it.  And I do question your idea that the word should be denied from a white person's ability to express admiration for a black person, because some people are ignorant and racist. It's a good word, and it should be an equal opportunity word.

                I think this is an excellent diary, and if you read all my comments in this thread, you'll see that. I'm a writer by trade and very sensitive to the power of words.  I wrote my comment because I wanted to have a discussion about the particular use of the word "articulate" as quoted from Forbes magazine.  

                And as I have stated in other comments here, I don't argue that the word has been used by those with racial issues. I just don't believe the answer is to accept that white people can't call black people articulate without being suspect of being a racist.


          •  Phelps isn't articulate... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            arabian, OrdinaryIowan, StellaRay

            So that's probably why you haven't heard that.  He's a great swimmer, but there's no reason to believe he's particularly smart.

        •  Find me the quote of a white athlete (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shanikka, poco

          being described as "articulate."
          Find me that quote and then I will agree that it isn't racist.

          To break it down, what your reaction shows is that in looking at the speaker, everything you see and know tells you that this person should not be able to speak intelligently. The fact that the person has met your threshold of intelligence is surprising to you thus you are forced to comment on it.
          You have no such reaction to a white person speaking because you have already decided that they intelligent and articulate.

          •  No one describes white athletes as articulate, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mlle L

            because most of them are not.

            Michael Phelps et al spend most of the day in training in a sport that isolates them from community.  You don't hear conversations, you can't speak to anyone (besides a coach).  There is very little interaction with anything other than water.

            Americans, as a rule, are not an articulate society.  Compare the average Olympic athlete (if there is such a thing) who speaks English, even as a second language, with the Americans and you find that language is certainly an under-developed skill with most Americans.

            Black American athletes seem to be more aware of the importance of language and tend to be more articulate.

            4π^3 + π^2 + π

            by Boris49 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:07:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Because you asked... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cory Bantic


              Who are the most articulate football players in the N.F.L.?
              Like the ones who don't say "you know","you know what I'm saying","we was determined to come back","they was tough on us","you was the man".

              Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
              They're both retired now, but I saw a recent conversation between Terrell Davis and Curtis Martin, and they both sounded extremely intelligent and were very well-spoken.

              Tom Brady is one who comes to mind of the current bunch.

              I'm sure that I have seen Brady called articulate other times.  Of course, one high profile exception sometimes just proves the rule,

              -7.75 -4.67

              "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

              There are no Christians in foxholes.

              by Odysseus on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:20:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I'm curious... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              where you came up with the characterization that swimming is an isolating sport? My daughter is going into her 7th year as a swimmer and her third on a highly competitive USA Swimming-registered team. One of her coaches competed in the US Olympic trials this year.

              I've never seen a more TEAM-oriented group of individuals. They train together, encourage each other, learn from each other as well as their coaches, cheer for every member of their team, and are always there with a hug and a 'great swim' after every race.

              They have to be interactive, given the average swim meet session is 4-6 hours long, during which a swimmer warms up for 20 minutes then sits on a bench with their teammates for hours at a time waiting for their turn to line up in a crowd of other swimmers (our meets have several hundred kids per session) to race 3 or 4 events (a total of a few minutes swimming). I can assure you they're not all sitting silently with headphones on for 4 hours. They're figuring out their lives, their strategies, their plans for protein-loading after the session ends, and checking to see who has what food or flavor of gatorade left.

              Isolating? Little interaction? I thought that was some other sport.

              Also most swimmers I know ARE articulate. This is because unlike the major money sports where walking and breathing at the same time earn you large scholarships as long as you are specialized in a particular talent - be it free throws or blocking Other Men With Footballs, swimmers need a backup plan for college and the rest of their lives. K1's coach is adamant that homework comes before practice.

              "But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die." - - Cherokee saying

              by brillig on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 03:20:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I don't argue (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that the word "articulate" has been and is used with racist under tones.  I'm saying not all white people are dog whistling racism when they describe a black person as articulate.  

            I have described many white people as articulate, and meant it as a compliment because I have certainly never decided that white people are "intelligent and articulate" as a rule.  LOL, one look at the GOP of today is the proof in that pudding.

            If I describe someone as articulate, that's just what I mean, and I don't think I'm alone.  See my comment above.  I don't think the solution is to cede the word articulate to the politically incorrect list of words used to describe black people.

            I DO think it's important to call out and discuss how the word is perceived and delivered when it comes to the races.

            •  i think it may help you to understand (7+ / 0-)

              if you compare it to the word "clean".

              There is nothing the matter with the word "clean".

              There is nothing the matter with being clean, or being called clean.

              Perhaps you have described many white people as clean and meant it as a compliment.

              But come to think of it, I have never heard that word applied to any white person who is a public figure, even though a good many of them are clean.

              But when a black person is called "clean", even by someone who means it innocently, we have to take into account how that word has been used in the past to denigrate (word chosen intentionally) others in comparison.

              To single out a black person as clean as though it were worth noting, implies that it is relatively rare and unexpected.  Hearing it over and over begins to grate on people after a few decades.

              Ditto with "articulate."

              Terms like clean and articulate lost their neutrality long ago.  I'm sorry that it is inconvenient for you.

              Sigh.  I remember having this argument in the 60s about Ed Brooke being a "credit to his race".  If I had a dime for every well-meaning "Why shouldn't I call him a credit to his race?  I mean it as a compliment!  Isn't that a good thing?"...

              Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

              "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
              Mitt Romney is not the solution. He's the PROBLEM

              by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:32:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  TBM, I am disappointed to hear (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TrueBlueMajority, arabian

                you say this:  "I'm sorry that is inconvenient for you."  I don't feel that's a fair response to my many comments here. I have not engaged in this discussion because I don't wish to be inconvenienced, and I don't think anything I've said suggests that.

                I wrote my initial comment here, and have throughout this part of the thread, been asking if because some people have used the word articulate with racial undertones, this means it must be put on the list of un PC words for white people to attribute to black people. Because this seems to re-enforce rather than help eradicate the prejudice.

                I am well aware of the use of the word "clean" and it's racial overtones when it comes to black people. I get how it works, and I get how it has worked with "articulate."  One could also make the same case for the words, smart, intelligent, powerful, and other complimentary words that have been at one time or another, used with surprise to describe someone who is black. Where does that lead us to?

                To the best of my ability, I understand the anger, and I cheer any discussion that informs both cultures as to how these words are delivered and received.

                •  you are the one who doesn't want to cede the word (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  StellaRay, shanikka, poco
                  I don't think the solution is to cede the word articulate to the politically incorrect list of words used to describe black people.
                  But the word is already on that list, whether you think that is the solution or not.

                  However, I will apologize for "I'm sorry that is inconvenient for you."  I moved that line in and out a few times.  I should have left it out.

                  "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
                  Mitt Romney is not the solution. He's the PROBLEM

                  by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:06:59 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  SIGH. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    You're right. I don't want to cede the words articulate, smart, intelligent, powerful and energetic, (which was also mentioned as insulting in the Forbes article) to the politically incorrect list of words for white people to describe black people. And I don't think it's a good idea to do so, don't believe those words are on any reserve for white people only, do believe the only way to stop that nonsense is to use those words with confidence to describe ANYONE who deserves them.

                    Those words describe one of my best friends, who is black, and I wouldn't deprive her of them for anything in the world just because some people are ignorant and hateful.  I know I take a big risk saying this as it echo's that old hoary chestnut, "some of my friends are black," but in my case it's simply the truth.  She and I have had many, many discussions about the differences in our cultures, over many decades, and it has been a grace note in my life that we have been able to do so with love and not anger.

                    In fact, she has a radio show here in the cities, and is always looking for interesting topics, including racial issues, and I think I'm going to suggest this one to her.

                    White people need to understand the black experience here, and black people need to understand that there are white people who mean just what they say and nothing more when they describe a black person as articulate or smart of any other great word.


                    •  you can't simply divorce yourself (0+ / 0-)

                      from all the people who have used the word differently.

                      i can hear how much you want to.

                      I am sighing myself at the thought that you somehow are the one being wronged by not being able to use the words you want to use.

                      no matter how hard it is for you, it is, well, a bit harder for the folks who are on the receiving end of the words and the judgments that come with them.  so at this point we are asking you to let us be the determiners of how we prefer (and don't prefer) to be described.

                      "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
                      Mitt Romney is not the solution. He's the PROBLEM

                      by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 01:42:51 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Oh for heaven's sake, (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        where exactly have I said I'm the one being wronged?!?! Or that I feel wronged at all?!?!?!  

                        It's not that I WANT TO USE THESE WORDS, it's that I BELIEVE these words should be for everyone who deserves them and I don't think the solution is to make good words the problem.  It will not be a hardship for me personally, to never hear a black person described as articulate by a white person again, but I don't consider that a win.

                        I have not accused you of being all about yourself for your opinions, and I resent you saying that about me.  I assume your passion and conviction is as well motivated as mine, and if we can't agree, that's OK, but I would appreciate that respect from you.

                        I have been and am a big fan of yours on this site.  Couldn't begin to count the many recs you've earned from me with great comments.  And I don't want that to change. We can agree to disagree without being insulting.

                        •  of course you never said you were being wronged (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          but you do kind of keep insisting that things shouldn't be the way they are because you don't want them to be that way.  because it makes you uncomfortable.  because you used the word and you want us to agree it can be neutral for you.

                          I understand that we are all working on our language and trying to reclaim certain words.  if the words are reclaimed someday, cool.  But this diary is not about someday.  It is about right now.

                          Let me be clear:  the term being used in a racist way by others does not mean that you yourself are automatically a racist for using it.  If that is why you are so passionate about this, I personally am not calling you a racist.

                          But the people who set the timing of the reclaiming of the words are the people towards whom the words are directed.  You do not seem to be accepting that.

                          i appreciate your frequent support of my dK comments.  I am not angry with you.  I think you will read this exchange sometime in the future and see it in a different light.

                          For now we will have to agree to disagree about this one.

                          "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
                          Mitt Romney is not the solution. He's the PROBLEM

                          by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 03:54:28 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Well, it seems no matter what I say, (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            poco, TrueBlueMajority, OrdinaryIowan

                            I can't find the right words to convince you that I don't think this is all about me.  And I can't find the words to convince you that I believe if enough of us act on what we want it to be, it will eventually be.  Seems no matter how I try, I can't convince you that I validate and respect the pain and distrust of black people when it comes to what white people say.

                            Let me be clear, at least about this. I don't think you were attacking me as a racist, per say, but still, I appreciate you saying so. And as for those who decide which words will be reclaimed, well I can't agree that it should be only black people.  I think white and black people must fight to reclaim the words of equality.

                            So let me say this:

                            I've been on the couch all day today with a summer cold.  The thing that has made it less boring that it might have been, is to challenge myself to this conversation, to try to learn something, understand better, and be brave enough to continue the conversation through the fears that folks would think less of me for taking the position I did.

                            In the last half hour, I spent my time going back to my very first comment on the subject of the word "articulate" and read ALL the comments straight through, and there's many, including another subset thread on another comment about basically the same thing.  It was very useful and illuminating to read my comments, and others' a bit later.

                            I'd like to share with you what I think I've gotten out of this, and why I'm grateful for it.

                            1. We can NEVER know the shoes others walk in.  We can try so hard to understand, and only get, on a good day, half way there.

                            2.  The racial wounds in this country are deep, and we cannot afford the attitude that everyone should just get over it.  In no way was that my premise in my comments, and in every way I could, upon a reread, I did do my best to acknowledge the anger, as best I could as a white person.

                            3.  Anger is a legitimate, useful emotion, and humans couldn't survive without it.  Outside of the issue of race relations, I have experienced this in my life.  My anger has always warned me, but I have learned, it is most useful to lead me to the next step.

                            4. It's very difficult to have discussions about racial relations, takes courage on the part of everyone who is willing to join in.  And I thank you for that.

                            5. These discussions WILL BE difficult, but at least for me,
                            well worth it.  I thought I had a good understanding of racist dog whistling, but I have a better understanding of it after reading Shannika's diary, and having this discussion.

                            As a woman, and the mother of a gay son, I am not totally inexperienced with dealing with prejudice.  Can't even describe the deep crack in my heart for all the pain my son has had to absorb, just for being himself.  And as a woman in business, I could twist your ear off with how many times I've been patronized and condescended to.  It is VERY unpleasant, and as many times as I've tried to express my understanding, to the extent I can, I will say again, that to the best of my ability, I understand.

                            We don't have to agree so much as we have to understand each other, and take the risk, that concerning those we respect, and for me, that would be you, the intent is important, if not everything.  We must be patient with each other, even when patience is the last thing we want to give, or feel we should be asked to give.  And I don't say this as a preacher, I say it because I don't see another alternative.

                            I feel that I have come to a better understanding of the question I initially asked, thanks to those who answered from a different POV.  I also feel my POV is worth consideration.  I don't need to be right, I do need to be heard.  We all need to be heard.

                            Well TBM, it's late in the day and in the thread, and I'm kind of hoping this isn't getting a huge audience, because if I had my druthers, I'd be talking about this with you over a cup of coffee, just you and me.  Thank you for listening and participating, even if we've had a bit of a dust up over it all.  But I'm willing to go there, and learn what I can.  More folks should hop the divide, imo, and take that risk.

                            I look forward to all those places we DO AGREE, and to finding each other the wind under each others' wings.

                          •  since it's getting late (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            and you are a little under the weather I hope we can just let it stay here.

                            i do want to reiterate that I do hear you, and I give you a LOT of credit for good intent, based on my previous interactions with you and respect for you in this forum.

                            If we meet at NN13 let's have that cup of coffee.

                            "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
                            Mitt Romney is not the solution. He's the PROBLEM

                            by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:33:22 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That would be lovely. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            But if it doesn't come to be, I hope we can have a virtual cup of coffee here now and then.  We may not always agree, but I am interested in the conversation, either way.

                            Sweet dreams.

                      •  I want to clarify (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        that when I said "I don't consider that a win," I mean I don't consider it a win for whites or blacks.  Lest you think I was speaking about a win for myself.

                        To me, the whole point is to double up on the side of our better angels, to lay claim to things that are true, and never let go---one of which is that the ideals of being articulate, smart, energetic, well spoken, kind, charming, sensitive, YOU NAME IT, have no racial boundaries.

          •  OK, here's the result of a few minutes' searching. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            StellaRay, arabian

            Tom Brady, NE Patriots: "Tom Brady is no stranger to the podium. He's quick-witted, articulate, calculated, [...]"

            Oscar Pistorius, RSA Olympian: "Oscar Pistorius is brave, articulate, polite, polished, handsome [...]"

            Here's a negative use - Ryan Lochte, US Olympian: "Ryan Lochte has been getting a lot of attention, however is not exactly the most articulate person."

            Tim Tebow, NY Jets: "Off the field, Tim Tebow is selfless, articulate and focused on helping others."

            Jennifer Boterrill, a just-retired Canadian hockey player: "Despite being overlooked, she was a gifted, articulate athlete with a heart of gold. "

            Robby Gould, NFL: "Chicago Bears placekicker Robbie Gould is one of the more interesting and articulate athletes out there."

            I understand how the word is viewed in the context of black athletes (and I'm sure that someone can reply to this with "oh, yeah, 5 examples; let me give you 200 offensive examples"), but I'm with an earlier commentator; I'd rather reclaim it than throw it off the table.  Other comments have made it clear that "well-spoken" is, for all intents and purposes, in the same category as "articulate," so how the heck DO we recognize those persons, of any color, who do present their thoughts in an well-organized and clearly expressed fashion?

            •  From (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              poco, shanikka, CocoaLove, SoCalSal

              a "white guy" sincerely trying to understand:

              So we have at least two common white tendencies going on here. In addition to noticing how black people say things before or instead of addressing the content of what they have to say, white people often argue that their words or actions couldn’t have been racist because they hadn't meant them to be racist. Black people, on the other hand, tend to notice the effects of racist words and actions as much as the apparent intention, or lack of intention, behind them.

              In terms of effects, praising blacks for their mastery of "standard" English has the effect of conveying condescension. A problem here is that those who condescend to others rarely realize they're doing so--that's rarely their "intention." But it can be the "effect."

              Black intellectuals would not be so gentle but this works for now.
              •  I think there's much that's true in this quote. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SoCalSal, OrdinaryIowan

                All people often confuse their intentions with their actions, and that certainly includes white people who don't understand the POV and history of the black culture, and are ignorant about racially insensitive words, or don't realize their own ingrained prejudices.

                However, there is a difference between "mastery of standard English" and being articulate. I know many people who use English correctly that I would not call articulate.

                Gabby, I would call articulate, with the compliment that word should imply, regardless of race issues.  

          •  Challenge Accepted (0+ / 0-)

            Here's a few for you:

            Peyton Manning is a very bright, articulate guy who loves the camera, loves media attention and who will be around the game for a long time to come as a media personality


            There's far more to like about Mickelson off the course. He's always smiling and is a good family man. He is articulate and has several interests outside of golf.


            Roger is articulate, eloquent, media savvy, too accessible, too much commercialized. He has become a cultural industry of mass media. Every thing sells about him.


        •  I can understand your confusion (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and have thought about why "articulate" might seem an insult.
          It isn't an insult per se, but a form of being patronising. In my own experience, it is like producing a really fine work of art after two months of work...and two more of research, ten years of formal training, and thirty years of experience; only to have someone say, "aren't you the clever girl", or "you're so good with your hands". Neither of these statements are insults, but they do imply that you are in some other category of human existence.

          "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

          by northsylvania on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 02:15:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ok, interesting response. (0+ / 0-)

            And I agree, some compliments come across as terribly patronizing---and others that seem so, are simply a matter of the giver's inability to understand through experience, what they are looking at, in terms of your example, a fine work of art, or what it took to get there.

            "Articulate" is certainly an insult if it's coming from a white person who is surprised such talent could come from a black person. And it is certainly true, that this kind of thing has too often been true.

            But the question I posed was essentially, do we retire good words because they're being used poorly by others---or do we double down on the real meaning of good words, and use them with confidence, in the right way, and cancel out those who would try to own or make a word like "articulate" a bad thing.  

            •  I would tend to agree. (0+ / 0-)

              The GLBT movement has done so successfully on occasion. However, I can't advise African-American activists in that I'm not walking in their shoes.

              "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

              by northsylvania on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 03:52:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arabian, SoCalSal

        She's the only one of the team who appears to be talking without a script, thus the description as articulate.  She seems to be the one person on the team who thinks on her feet and speaks from her heart.  The others are wonderful gymnasts, but you can tell their remarks are prepared.

      •  Articulate? (0+ / 0-)

        Gah.  And double GAH.  

        Meet me in Cognito, baby

        by out grrl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:11:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The rest of them (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shanikka, RainyDay, arabian

        aren't particularly articulate at all, frankly, they all just parrot the same script...repeating the questions back that the reporters ask them.

        That's indicated to me that Gabby didn't get the same "media training/coaching" that the other girls did.   She actually answers the questions rather than giving the canned "athlete's answer".

        [I'm always reminded of the scene in Bull Durham when I listen to US Olympic Athletes being interviewed.  The scripting and the templates are so apparent in those interviews!]

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:25:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...I did see an opinion piece that basically noted that Ryan Lochte is not articulate. Or very bright.

        I have seen some absolutely horrid racism directed toward Gabby. Go find any article or video about her on yahoo and start reading the comments. That one is a minor thing.

    •  To be fair, Gabby Douglas did get publicity when (9+ / 0-)

      Proctor and Gamble did a promo on her and her mom as part of their Raising an Olympian series.  I did not feel she was any more short changed than the other three girls on the team.  Personally, I only heard two names prior to the Olympics, Jordyn who was the current world champion and therefore favored and Gabby Douglas by virtue of her Olympic trials win.

      Maybe because it is that I am not black, but I did not see her nickname as being negative.  I personally thought her nickname the Flying Squirrel was cute as it described how easily she flew through the air.  To me, it conjured up the image of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, who like Gabby, always had a big smile on his face too.  I assumed that it was a token of affection on the part of team coach Martha Karolyi to have given her that nickname.  

      "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

      by gulfgal98 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:38:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When You (7+ / 0-)

        Read the other comments that Marta Karolyi made about her own gymnast it's very hard to see the nickname as a positive.  It evokes the flying rodent that it is for me:  fast, but ugly.

        •  where can I read those comments? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          northsylvania, SoCalSal

          truly curious. Gabrielle seems like a nice person and good role model for determination and hard work. I'd think a coach would be hard-pressed to say anything negative about her.

          •  Several of My Links (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JayBat, wu ming, ferg, poco

            Note the fact that even weeks before the Olympics, Marta Karolyi was saying publicly that Gabby Douglas didn't have what it took to be a champion.

            A child on her own team.  She should be utterly ashamed of herself.  They did an interview with the Karolyis the other night in which they mentioned Gabby one time and even then not bothering to say they were proud of her  - never mentioned Dominique at all -- and yet managed to go on about Jordyn and Shannon and Mary Lou and Shawn Johnson.

            •  There's a simple explanation for Dawes' omission. (0+ / 0-)

              The four gymnasts mentioned all won all-around Olympic gold, all-around world championships or both.  Dawes did neither.

              Like most sports, gymnastics elevates its champions to a different level. That's why the toughest sports trivia questions are "what team LOST Super Bowl XXI" or "who was the silver medalist behind [insert champion's name here]?"

              Having said that, even champions can disappear - remember Carly Patterson?  

              As far as the comments about "didn't have what it took," read the NY Times article:

              Douglas said concentrating was not easy.

              “It’s very tough for me to focus,” she said. “I’m like: ‘Look, something shiny! No, focus. Oh, there goes a butterfly!’ ”

              So, her coaches said things with which she publicly agreed; it's hard to see a reason for outrage there...
              •  Shannon did not. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                poco, shanikka

                I just looked it up.  She choked.  She had the same coach as Gabby had.

                "No, I'm being judged against the ideal. Joe Biden has a saying: 'Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." --President Barack Obama, 12/11/11

                by smoothnmellow on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 01:24:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Shannon Miller won All-Around at Worlds in 1993 (0+ / 0-)

                  and 1994. She didn't win All-Around at the 1992 Olympics, but she won silver in a close match with Tatiana Gutsu (not really a choke, IMHO. Kim Zmeskal choked) and won more medals in a single Olympics than any other American had. That's why she was so talked about.

                  If you're thinking about her performance during the Mag 7 games, it's true that she did not perform spectacularly (although her balance beam gold was nothing to sneeze at). She was already a veteran at that point and had established herself. She was old by the standards of gymnastics at the time and recovering from injuries that had side lined her. Dominique Moceanu was the rising star who garnered most of the press at that Olympics (although she never lived up to it IIRC), although Kerri Strug of course walked out (or rather limped out) the hero. I don't recall Dominique Dawes being shorted in pre-Olympics or post- chatter. I do remember that she was my favorite (in part because of the gold glitter in her hair--shallow, but I was a teenager and shallow). Amy Chow is who I think got shorted if anyone did. Chow won silver in uneven bars, which was historic for US gymnastics since no Asian American had medaled. But I don't recall her getting any press at all. She was completely drowned out in Strug and in my memory, both Dawes and Moceanu.

                •  If anyone wants to go digging, by the way... (0+ / 0-)

         has scores for major competitions going back decades...

              •  The Entire (0+ / 0-)

                Point of the piece is to point out that the media reinforces the narrative.  Your contending that this single statement by one of the most poised young ladies on our team (a statement in notable contrast to her other statements in which she exudes nothing but confidence) justifies all the constant negativity that Gabby was hit with before she won the all around merely proves my point.

                •  I was responding to someone who criticized Karolyi (0+ / 0-)

                  Other comments upbraided Karolyi for saying that Douglas had focus problems, suggesting that it was part of the pattern of negativitity.  I merely stated that Douglas herself acknowledged her problems with staying forcused; that would seem to confirm Karolyi's comment as accurate, not dishonest or overly negative.

                  •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

                    As the linked articles make clear, Douglas disagreed with Karolyi about her assessment.

                    Karolyi, who is supposed to be a mentor and a leader for the team (she is not a coach for most of it) should NEVER have been making public statements of that type, no matter what she thought privately.  So she deserved upbraiding and more.

                    •  Both Karolyis have been that way for decades. (0+ / 0-)

                      They're certainly two of the most (if not THE most) blunt, outspoken voices in gymnastics.  They're blunt and outspoken about EVERYTHING.  There are more than a few Karolyi gymnasts who credit that approach with their success, even as their peers criticize it.

                      The important point, as far as this diary is concerned, is that they certainly didn't do or say anything about Douglas that they haven't done or said about any number of other gymnasts over the years.  To bring that into a discussion of racist behavior, even tangentially, is inaccurate at best.

            •  I'm confused... (0+ / 0-)

              Gabby's coach is Liang Chow. Is Chow part of Karolys' team?

              The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

              by SoCalSal on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:21:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  fast and brown was my first thought (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          i suppose we should be grateful that they picked a rodent instead of a monkey


          "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
          Mitt Romney is not the solution. He's the PROBLEM

          by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:34:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  This is a very timely topic, and an important (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shanikka, StellaRay, poco, Terri, RainyDay, SoCalSal

          conversation that needs to be had. The above comment of yours about the coach's attitude piqued my interest, in particular, because it's obvious from the name that she's originally from Eastern Europe and as I have lived in Europe for the past 20+ years, I wanted to know more about her and her husband, Bela. Intercultural issues are also a topic I have studied and taught, so when I came across this article:
          it explained a lot. Their training methods are probably pretty much what they were subjected to, which is verbally abusive in general, and the article also briefly mentions the Karolyis' anti-black bias explicitly. It doesn't surprise me at all, since the people from those cultures probably had very little to no exposure at all to others outside of their homogeneous, dictator-run countries, at most in international competitions, but that was probably only within their own sport. Apparently their years in the US haven't changed them at all. It's even worse that they have gained fame and fortune because they are successful at what they do, but awful human beings at the same time. All the more admiration for Gabby and her strength of character to have withstood such negativity.

          „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

          by translatorpro on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:18:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Not a token of affection (16+ / 0-)

        And MK has been less than enthusiastic about Gabrielle.

        Since I follow gymnastics on the lower levels (my goddaughter is highly ranked in NYS) I have been watching Douglas for a while.

        Liang Chow is not part of the Karolyi machine.

        "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now". Rev. William Barber, If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:48:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't follow gymnastics (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Boris49, StellaRay, SoCalSal

          so I'd never heard of Gabrielle Douglas until a few days ago. All I know about her is that she is an amazing gymnast, tiny of stature (although apparently that goes with the territory), was lucky to have parents who uprooted themselves to move to Iowa or wherever so she could train with the best, and has a huge, beautiful smile. Plus, now, a gold medal.

          I've known people who competed at that level in a winter sport, also subjectively judged, and there is a level of determination, dedication and smarts that we lesser mortals can only wonder at.

          FWIW, I took "articulate" to mean well-spoken, which she is. Hard as those kids work, not all of them can utter a coherent sentence in an interview; she can.

          "This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it." -- Eeyore

          by Mnemosyne on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:53:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's a big part of it (6+ / 0-)
          Liang Chow is not part of the Karolyi machine.
          The media, I believe, are probably taking most of their cues from Karolyi, and thus plan their coverage accordingly.  You might see my comment above about the "machine days" of Soviet gymnastics and the politics of all that, and how not different enough from that we may be.

          I'll also note, I hope delicately, but it is a highly sensitive line to cross and I'm not sure I have the word smithing chops to pull it off--that the Eastern European roots of many of those who are prominent in the sport of gymnastics do not exactly promise the greatest track record or experience with forces like diversity.  That wasn't a system that encouraged multiculturalism and I have noted that many folks I have encountered who come from those parts and settle here in the US often have what I might generously describe as an attitude about US racial relations that seems better suited to a past era.

          Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

          by a gilas girl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:34:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I did wonder at the russian silver medalist (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            who cried so much. Since I didn't think she was the favorite to win gold, it seemed a bit odd to be that upset at winning silver.

            •  I hate to defend the Russians... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ...who I think were kind of poor sports Thursday night and at the team final. But it had nothing to do with who beat them. You would have seen that reaction from Komova regardless. She was definitely a favorite to win the all-around. She is the reigning world all-around silver medalist and many fans would tell you she should have won that event. The top two were barely separated in points and both performed their best.

              The two Russian girls who competed in the all around and shared Gabby's podium, Komova and Mustafina, were both genuine contenders for gold and both had injuries in the last year that left them not entirely prepared, particularly on vault which was the event that was really the difference between Gabby and Komova for gold and silver. Their disappointment was genuine and nothing to do with who beat them, rather that they got beat.

        •  The article I linked to above (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is eyeopening about the sport in general, and about these particularly loathsome representatives of the human species in detail. Apparently they are like that to all of their charges, and have an anti-black bias to boot. So it's beyond me how parents of any color can let their kids be subject to such abusive behavior for the sake of a sport. Unbelievable.

          For those athletes who survive and succeed, my hat is off to them.

          „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

          by translatorpro on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:27:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I am sorry if I offended anyone (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ferg, tobendaro, SoCalSal

          with my opinion.  I was partially basing it on my own experience with a similar nickname, "the little hamster," which my friends gave me and still call me to this day.

          My two oldest nieces were gymnasts and the older girl was a state champion some years ago.  She had the potential to move to a national level as she was the right size for a gymnast, had the talent, and the work ethic.  

          Gymnastics requires a level of commitment that is almost unparalleled in sports at such a young age.  My nieces wanted to do this of their own accord.  No one in oour family had ever been involved in gymnastics and we had no idea what it involved.  My nieces trained six out of seven days a week, beginning in elementary school.  My sister would pick them up from school and they would do their homework in the back seat of the car as she drove them to the gym nearly an hour away.  They spent several hours training and then came home to a quick dinner before heading to bed each night.  

          One summer after begging their parents to send them, they went to Texas to the Karolyi training camp. The pace there was brutal and after that, they decided they did not want to move up to the Olympic level of training although both continued to compete through high school.

          Gymnastics takes a toll on the body.  Althought they were both incredibly strong and could do things with ease that amazed me, my oldest niece did not reach puberty until almost 20 years of age and grew nearly four inches in height after quitting gymnastics.  She was 4' 10" when she competed and now she is almost 5'2".  

          What gymnastics does is build enormous character that is applicable to later life.  My nieces were both outstanding scholars and both ended up with upper level degrees.  I think they are probably not unusual in that regard.  Most retired gymnasts become high achievers in other aspects of their lives.

          "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

          by gulfgal98 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 01:29:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, I was going to say that part of Karolyi's (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tobendaro, CocoaLove, poco

          issue with Gabby is that Gabby isn't really one of Marta's gymnasts. Marta may be nominally team USA coach, but both Karolyis have a reputation for favoring their own, as in the gymnasts who build their careers with them. I don't know this part for fact, but given Liang Chow's gymnasts success in the recent past, I'd bet they particularly disfavor his gymnasts. He threatens their rep and their training methods. His approach involves plenty of rest and recovery time whereas they work their gymnasts to the bone.

    •  I'm wondering if you actually read the entire post (25+ / 0-)

      The diarist explains quite well  the degree to which the media belittled Gabby's talent. Those other gymnasts didn't come close to Gabby's proven ability.

      Last March Gabby was the alternate at the American Cup in Madison Square Garden. As an extra invite her score didn't count. But she outscored Jordyn Wieber and everyone else at that meet.  After that  Gabby and Jordyn  were considered the only sure bets to make the Olympic Team. At the Olympic Trials Gabby again beat Jordyn, earning her the only automatic berth on the Olympic Team.  The rest of the team was picked by the Olympic Committee.  

      To equate the attention given to Gabby with the attention given to "the other 3 non-Jordyns" makes no sense in light of her phenomenal achievements this past year.

      You’re Damn Right Obama Cares. Why Doesn’t Romney?. ~HELEN of

      by denig on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:48:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Didn't know about that, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denig, ferg

        so thank you for the background. As said above, gymnastics is not a sport I follow, and I've not been watching the teevee.

        "This writing business. Pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it." -- Eeyore

        by Mnemosyne on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:54:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well, to be fair... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal, snazzzybird

        Aly Raisman placed 4th in the all-around, and 3rd in floor exercise, at the 2011 World Championships.  In the "count your 3 best scores" team competition, won by the US, 3 of Raisman's 4 scores were counted toward the team total, compared to only one of Douglas' marks.

        McKayla Moroney won gold in the vault at the same World Championships.  She took a (largely unnoticed silver) medal for the vault in London.

        I don't think it fair to those athletes to lump them together as "non-Jordyns."  Yes, Douglas had a FANTASTIC Olympic performance, but her performance prior to the Games was, simply put, not at the level of her teammates in terms of major championships.  Her first official all-around title was in this year's Olympic Trials.

        Read what Team USA has to say about it...

        •  I disagree. Heartily. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And you can direct

          lump them together as "non-Jordyns."
          to DerekNJ. I was responding to him.

          You’re Damn Right Obama Cares. Why Doesn’t Romney?. ~HELEN of

          by denig on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 01:33:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Wait a minute... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          poco, denig, RainyDay, CocoaLove

          Did you not get the part that Douglas was a WALK ON INVITEE at an event at MSG where she scored the highest of all, but her scores didn't count?

          "No, I'm being judged against the ideal. Joe Biden has a saying: 'Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." --President Barack Obama, 12/11/11

          by smoothnmellow on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 01:37:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  She wasn't a "walk on invitee"... (0+ / 0-)

            She was an alternate for the American Cup because each country was limited to two competitors.  Based on previous performance, Raisman and Wieber got the nod for the American Cup.  Go look at Douglas' 2011 performances, and you'll see what I mean.

            Here's all I'm saying - it's absolutely fantastic that she came out of nowhere to do this, but it isn't accurate to suggest that she has been performing at this level for a long time.  We're basically talking about the last 5 months - the American Cup in March, US Nationals in June, the Olympic Trials at the end of June, and this performance.

            It's truly amazing, yes - but it isn't that she's been ignored for ages, as some folks here seem to claim.

        •  Good article about Gabby, thanks. eom (0+ / 0-)

          The sh*t those people [republicans] say just makes me weep for humanity! - Woody Harrelson

          by SoCalSal on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 06:18:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The only coverage I happened to get, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cory Bantic, shanikka

      because my Mom had a copy, was the 7/30 TIME cover story "Gymnast Gabby Douglas Finds Her Balance." The usual ups and downs of a major athlete were set in the back drop of how tough her 15 year old life was and how she had conquered the various problems and won her spot on the team. The only other women's Olympic gymnasts mentioned were the '08 stars. The issue also covered the whole problem of major mistakes in competition in a "No Choke" article.

      I was amazed at how much trouble I had finding a decent video of her mat performance. Between NBC problems and a dearth of other sources, the only one I've seen was choppy and poorly focused. Also could not find the awards ceremony video.

      What I did see was the interaction of the team and coaches before and after the different members competed. Gabby may have just been farther away watching, it still seemed like the other 4 were interacting while she was on the side.

      The hair thing is really the most ludicrous part. Two of the tweets I saw on it had pictures of black guys. ??? I did a much tamer version of gymnastics 40-45 years ago in PE. These folks honestly think those moves, especially in succession, are not forceful enough to undo just about everything you try to keep hair contained with?

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:27:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  all they talked about here was Aly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      because she is from Massachusetts

      "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
      Mitt Romney is not the solution. He's the PROBLEM

      by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:34:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's possible to see race in everything... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I fully believe that racism still exists in America, but when I read the comments in these threads I am left scratching my head.  It's apparently completely impossible for anyone to praise a black athlete or person without getting flack overy every single thing that is said.  

      It's possible to go overboard in looking for race in everything, and it's also possible to end up in an echo chamber where everyone just reinforces their own views.  

      I feel that often happens in these discussions of race where instead of the point being to convince people that racism is still a problem that needs to be addressed, instead it snowballs into an attempt to find racism in every single innocuous comment and every single thing that occurs.  

      I will say again that I fully believe that racism is still a problem in this country, but seeing the nitpicking over every single comment made, and all the supposed slights over how an athlete was treated, it just gets ridiculous.  

  •  my compliments (34+ / 0-)
    "It's a win-win. All the Glory is given to God and all the blessings fall down on me"
    to this talented and beautiful young woman for the hard work, perseverance, and ambition that brought her to the point she finds herself at today.

    "That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State ..."- Vermont Constitution Chapter 1, Article 16

    by kestrel9000 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:06:53 AM PDT

  •  I think your links may be mixed up (7+ / 0-)

    the Fab 5 thing doesn't seem to be there. I'd like to view that.

    qualifier for the all around, the Today Show did a whole "Parents of the Fab 5" segment in which it not once mentioned Gabby by name, although it was sure to let us know who Jordyn Wieber's parents and Aly Raisman's parents were.  (It is Natalie Hawkins, btw, not Missy Parton, no matter how much the media is running around saying that Gabby had a white mother too.)

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:08:24 AM PDT

  •  I'm sure she will share top spot in the public's (3+ / 0-)

    mind with Phelps, if not eclipse him in accolades and appreciation.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:09:57 AM PDT

    •  Doubtful (19+ / 0-)

      As of last night, media folks and especially the television network given the honor of televising the games were still waxing rhapsodically over Phelps (not to dishonor him, because I don't) and the clips were once again showing Gabby very little.

    •  Is this snark David? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, justmy2, Wednesday Bizzare


      Republicans...What a nice club that is. A club of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel

      by CanyonWren on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:22:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No. I really expect that the country will welcome (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        her back very warmly and that she will be an inspiration to girls and boys of all races, etc.
        The media may have been caught off guard and what Phelps has achieved is worthy of accolades in its own right, but I think Gabby will be a huge hit in this country.
        I haven't been watching the Olympics and have only seen the margins of the media coverage of the event, so I don't have an opinion of the coverage and media response so far.
        I appreciate the diary, and understand the challenges that she's talking about with regards to black women . I haven't been too involved with watching gymnastics since Ludmilla Turischeva.
        I'm not saying that we're living in a totally "post-racial/post-sexist" world, but I do think Gabby Douglas will be a big hit in coming months. Our society is changing.
        I just hope the media and Christian right doesn't "Tebow" her. Getting caught in the religio-political tug-of-war is more likely to affect her public status than anything else.

        You can't make this stuff up.

        by David54 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:23:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then maybe it's the quality of the recognition (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          laurnj, shanikka, CanyonWren, poco

          that makes a difference.  Google "Gabbys Hair" (don't really) if you want to see a difference in the quality.  There is no question that the media was caught off guard. The question is why? There is no reason for them to have expected a different outcome but they did. And there is also no reason to expect that they won't continue to make the same mistakes.  The story of the team gold was all about the unfairness to Jordan--not the team- saving reliable scores of Gabby. There was no way to watch corporate coverage of the sport without feeling that Gabby's win was an upset.  And it wasn't.  Sure Phelps deserves the attention (if you overlook the hype of expectations he didn't meet which were inconsistent with his purported training and recent results). The point is not that there will be no attention. It is the diminished attention in relation to what athletes in the same category get. I saw a disgusting meme on FB about how insulting it was for Oprah to call Gabby to congratulate her but that she didnt call the other girls. Supposed to prove Oprah is a racist. It completely ignores the fact that individually the other girls did nothing to congratulate. Disgusting.

          "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

          by stellaluna on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:00:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I Can't Go that Far (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus, CanyonWren, poco, Terri, CocoaLove

            I think Aly Raisman (crazy parents aside -- who also got huge amounts of media attention by name and affiliation with their daughter at the same time that NBC would pan over the Black folks in the stands with no mention that this was Gabby's family) deserves to feel very proud about her performance that got her into the all around.  Maroney truly deserves her accolades for her vault work.  And yes, Wieber is a star on the floor exercise.  So I can't say that "individually the other girls did nothing to congratulate."

            What I can say, though, is that Oprah calling Gabby makes perfect sense.  She is the most recognized Black female name on the planet but she isn't stupid and hasn't stopped being Black either.  I suspect she too had seen the prior coverage and figured this little girl might deserve to hear exactly how important her achievement was to so many important people worldwide.

            •  Yes maybe I'm a little harsh. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The other girls had commendable results and heck, just being there is amazing. My point actually is that Gabby won the individual gold. None of the other girls won a medal individually. So there is a definable difference between Gabby and the other girls which can justify singling her out. In fact, any demand that all the girls should be equally honored is not something I would expect in different circumstances.  It may be that Oprah did single Gabby out because she did need the extra attention. But there is no reason to believe it was some sort of race thing. (which still would be OK with me)  Gabby deserves to be singled out because she was individually the best. I don't think our country has suddenly changed into one that considers the group achievement superior to the individual. Gabby deserves any and all individual merit that someone in her places merits.  The very best thing about sport is that frequently all of the wishing and hoping and ignoring in the world can't change the fact that the best wins.

              "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

              by stellaluna on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 03:49:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  The media's job (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shanikka, CanyonWren, David54, poco, RainyDay

          is to NOT be caught "off guard", but their way of dealing with that is to ignore what happens right in front of them and continue on with the general plan, thus pretending that they weren't caught "off guard".

          So again, that does explain part of the all Phelps all the time, and it's simply a continuation of their 2008 coverage, which I found tiresome after a while.

          The real swimming story was not Michael Phelps after all but the US women, the whole of the team, which matched the men almost medal for medal (the men simply had two races where the US finished 1-2 and one of those was Phelps-Lochte) otherwise the US Team was completely balanced across the gender line which is something that hasn't been the case for more Olympics than Michael Phelps has been competing.

          The bigger issue than even the lack of coverage or the disparities in coverage is the degree to which both the network and the general white population will go to insist that there is NO racial dimension to any of this.  

          Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

          by a gilas girl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:41:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I didn't say there was NO racial dimension (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a gilas girl

            to this. I said I thought Gabby would wind up being an inspiration, a heroine, and possibly a star (she's very young and it's up to her mother, really, how much media exposure she gets), as time goes on.

            There may be many bigger stories than Michael Phelps to compare the Gabby Douglas coverage too, but I wouldn't know, because I haven't been watching the coverage.
            I just responded to the diary.

            I agree, it's not the media's job to be caught off guard. But, it's "the media" so what can I say. They tend to underperform, in general.

            You can't make this stuff up.

            by David54 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:19:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know ;^) (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              but my real point in criticizing the media isn't so much because I think it will make the media perform better (it probably won't) but rather to highlight the ways in which these things are actively produced rather than simply "happening".

              sometimes that part gets left out of the equation.

              Talking about the US media can be very tiresome.

              Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

              by a gilas girl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:24:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I like your optimism, and hope you're right. n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Republicans...What a nice club that is. A club of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel

          by CanyonWren on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:16:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  And this is the way America supports (21+ / 0-)

    its female black gymnasts before they win gold:

    Gymnast Gabby Douglas' mom filed for bankruptcy

    Documents filed in January in the Eastern District of Virginia show Natalie Hawkins filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which allows a person to reorganize their finances and pay down debt over several years.

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:10:26 AM PDT

  •  I suppose you don't follow Track & Field or (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  to be fair (7+ / 0-)

    Condi Rice is pro life and that also explains her GOP standing. Yet, polls say she is by far the most desired VP candidate for Romney.

    Just sayin' her picture is a complex one.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:14:00 AM PDT

  •  Nice diary. You could also mention (22+ / 0-)

    Florence Griffith-Joyner

    (a photospread)

    Given the former cultural stereotypes of African-American women, at least one can say that progress is being made. And I look forward to seing Gabby Douglas on my next box of wheaties.

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:14:19 AM PDT

  •  Gabby better go to college (26+ / 0-)

    Or stated another way, a bevy of world class universities had better recruit her. There will be great pressure for her to sell out for the big bucks, product endorsements, more olympics, etc etc. I hope she chooses an academic goal over money goals. There will be plenty of time for her to make money. Wouldn't it be great to see her pick a top university and get her degree in studies to thrill her as a career?

  •  The financial toll on her mother (15+ / 0-)

    Obviously, gymnastics is very expensive and the fact that Gabby went off to Des Moines to train w/ her current coach probably were the  biggest reason why her mother, Nathalie Hawkins, filed for bankruptcy.

  •  Indeed (16+ / 0-)

    If someone looks or speaks differently, they can't possibly be capable of excelling, and when they do, it can't possibly be the result of hard work or talent, there is always some other explanation like bad hair or dope.


    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:17:27 AM PDT

    •  Thank You (19+ / 0-)

      For pointing out the downright dirty done to Ye Shiwen.  All the hatred in her direction also infuriated me this week.

      And once again it was America doing the dirty by making doping claims when there was no basis for it, merely because this little girl bested a time that an American quasi-God (Ryan Lochte) swam on a leg of his race.  

      To its credit, Britain has not emulated this racism in its coverage of the games.  The BBC has been excellent.

      •  and thank you (10+ / 0-)

        I don't have a tv, so I was blown away by your post.


      •  Amen. (7+ / 0-)

        I just read an article yesterday talking about how what Shiwen had accomplished was credible, as compared to other athletes, and entirely undeserving of the doping talk.

        And yes, I doubt the American media would have initiated this controversy if Shiewn was on the US team.

      •  but do have to point out that the French have had (0+ / 0-)

        it in for Lance Armstrong for many many years with multiple accusations of doping. No evidence has ever been produced, but they keep accusing anyway. I think the French really hate it that an American excelled at their famous sport.

        We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

        by Tamar on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:01:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What Does (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That have to do with anything? Ye Shiwen isn't French.

          •  No -- that's not what I meant. Just that there is (0+ / 0-)

            often anger and various kinds of prejudices all over the place, not just in the U.S. against the "other" (although there's obviously far too much of that).
            What happened to Ye Shiwen may be similar to what has happened to other athletes when they have a superior performance that elicits jealousy and anger in the countries of their opponents.
            or statements like this from swimmer Tyler Clary about Phelps:

            "The fact that he doesn’t have to work as hard to get that done, it’s a real shame,” Clary told the paper. “I think it’s too bad. You see that all too often, where you get athletes that are incredibly talented that really take it for granted. I think the things he could have done if he’d worked as hard as I do would have been even more incredible than what he has pulled off.

            “You see it a lot in sports and it’s always the same story. Reporters come to them and they say, ‘Oh, yeah, I work so hard, I have all these goals … blah blah blah.’ You go and actually watch any of those people for just one workout, without them knowing you’re there. All it takes is one workout, and you can easily see it’s a whole difference as far as work ethic goes.”


            We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

            by Tamar on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:52:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Well (0+ / 0-)

          That may not be the best example.  If you talk to folks who follow cycling they will tell you that Armstrong's rise was McGwire-esq.  He was a middle of the road cyclist who suddenly became a superstar.  You could also compare him to Bonds.  And more than one person has come forward.

          Meet me in Cognito, baby

          by out grrl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:36:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As far as I know, there has not been any (0+ / 0-)

            evidence that supports any of the accusations.
            I'll check with my husband (who follows Lance Armstrong) but I believe it's been mainly the French who have made the accusations with the exception of one teammate.
            BTW, this is not meant as a diatribe against the French. We never supported any of the anti-France stuff that went on here during the Iraq war. And we vacationed in France during the Bush years (and, by chance, got to watch the end of the Tour De France!) and always prefaced our discussions with people by saying we didn't like Bush. Luckily, my husband is fluent in French so we made friends and had a great time.

            We're not perfect, but they're nuts! -- Barney Frank

            by Tamar on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:57:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Correct (0+ / 0-)

              You are correct.  There is no scientific evidence.  But his story raises a lot of eyebrows because his transformation was so dramatic.  And IIRC, more than one former team mate has come forward.

              Meet me in Cognito, baby

              by out grrl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:58:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  That was an ugly moment (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko, shanikka, poco

        But I was glad to see the young woman herself take a public stand and state she does not dope.

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:01:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Chinese have some history with doping... (0+ / 0-)

        It's a big reason for the suspicion.  It's not like there's not history there, and in general a woman beating a man is fairly unusual.  

        I don't see how any woman from any country wouldn't have avoided generating some controversy over such an amazing performance.  

        The fact is we know athletes cheat, and many have been exposed over the years.  So, when an athlete puts in an amazing performance, it's natural for the question to be in your mind.  

        To be honest, if it came out that Phelps cheated it wouldn't surprise me either.  I'm not saying he did by any means, but if word came out that he had it wouldn't exactly blow me away because I have a low grade suspicion that basically every athlete might be doping.  

  •  I loved this video with her mom (41+ / 0-)

    "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now". Rev. William Barber, If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:18:17 AM PDT

  •  If I had to guess, I would guess (5+ / 0-)

    that Gabby Douglas will be, BY FAR, the most popular athlete, male or female, to come out of these Olympics.  By far.    While black females don't inspire the racial dread in whites that black males often do, Gabby will even avoid any of that given her very youthful visage.

    Just my guess

    From Neocon to sane- thanks to Obama- and Kos.

    by satrap on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:20:44 AM PDT

  •  I also notice before she won that camera angles (17+ / 0-)

    nearly always missed her and focused on the other girls...all of them, but her.  And, as you mentioned, all the commentary underestimated her ability, not to mention played down her accomplishments until the team won the gold.  One interviewer actually praised her as pretty much carrying the team with more than 33% of the events, which was awesome.  

    OAN, when Serena Williams won the gold against Sharipova (sp), the questions thrown at her afterward were all Sharipova-centered, which was infuriating.  It was clear to me that he felt the pretty blonde girl brought out the rage in Serena, which propelled her victory.  

    Republicans...What a nice club that is. A club of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel

    by CanyonWren on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:21:27 AM PDT

  •  most journalists are lazy... (10+ / 0-)

    They have a story they want to write & they write it...if the narrative moves away from their plot line they won't explore their erronious assumptions. They write, "Who would have thought".

    That sometimes happens with political reporting..

    •  That's true. They get an idea in their head -- (5+ / 0-)

      this Olympics is Jordyn's -- and they all run with that theme. Like little robots. There's no original thought.

      They talked about how stunned the sport of gymnastics was when Jordyn didn't qualify for the all-around.

      Well, no one was more stunned than the robot media people. They kept playing with that story. But... but, but, it was supposed to be Jordyn!

      Even then, they couldn't pivot to the new idea. To what had actually happened. Gabby and Aly.

      •  My exact sentiments! (7+ / 0-)

        I was just saying that to my mother the other day. I watched Gabby smoke the Olympic trials. I first heard of her back in March when she out preformed the "real competiters".

        As a true fan of the sport of gymnastics since seeing Nadia, what saddens me the most is that there is another African-American gymnast that much of the world missed and that was Diane Durham. She was a contemporary of Mary Lou and her number one menace. Diane was clearly the better gymnast going into the 1984 Olympics but injured her ankle at the trials.  See for yourself. She was explosive!

        Also Dominique never got the glory she deserved because the European judges would horribly underscore her when she competed internationally. She was the first American female gymnast to do a double tumbling pass on the floor exercise. I believe it is in the routine that Shannika posted.

        African American women have a strong history in gymnastic including this one. Along with Gabby there was Kayla Ross but not a peep about her heritage...Asian and Black. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing in light of how this all has played out...

        Never argue with an idiot - they'll bring you down to their level then beat you with experience.

        by dtruth on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:18:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That OFTEN happens with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      laurnj, Terri

      political writing, imo.  It's the pundit parrot syndrome, and imo, you see it every day in every way.

      One of my fave examples:  "No one's paying attention to the presidential race right now, because it's summer and no one cares, so it doesn't matter what happens, and the polls don't mean anything."

      Wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard this one.  And yet, imo, Obama has succeeded in defining Romney early and brutally, and the media is having a harder time ignoring that every day.  The people who have the platform to set the narrative ARE paying attention, and they're just starting to get it.

  •  This phenomenon... (9+ / 0-) hardly limited to womens gymnastics.

    The code words are a bit different, but anybody who has watched big time athletics can easily recognize the subtext, and sometimes the not so "sub" of what the announcers are really inferring about the minority participants.

    Anybody who has ever listened to "sports talk radio" for more than one excruciating moment of stupid knows exactly what I'm talking about.

    Sports, even though on the surface may seem "color blind" and of being a fair meritocracy, still has an extremely strong strain of racism and authoritarianism that runs through it, and it is expressed clearly through it's announcers and pundits.

    It's all under the guise of "keeping the athletes in line", where they should all be seen and not heard.

    Just take note the next time a famous black athlete has an opinion on something more mentally challenging than the last 20 yard run that he made to score the winning touchdown. The talk radio guys can't wait to start yelling "he ought to keep his mouth shut".

    "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

    by jkay on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:23:56 AM PDT

  •  You rocked this diary (31+ / 0-)

    sad that I am that it had to be written. We have sat here fuming at the coverage of Gabby Douglas, not necessarily surprised, but fuming nonetheless.

    I watched part of the match yesterday between Sharapova and Serena Williams wherein it sounded to me like Sharapova was as or more vocally expressive as Williams, yet it's Williams who gets criticized for not being "ladylike". Eff that.

    I was a figure skater, an uncommon sport for black girls. My heart soared with such pride watching Debi Thomas who was the 1986 world champion and Olympic bronze medalist and who went on to become a doctor.  She got passing mentions then and now.

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. I remember that much from French classes. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Outstanding diary. So freaking glad to see you on the FP!

    We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

    by Vita Brevis on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:26:40 AM PDT

  •  I haven't followed the Olympics this year (11+ / 0-)

    but I remember well when Dominique won her gold, watching on the floor of my grandparents living room.  Thank you for highlighting Gabby Douglas; I'm off to look up video of her competitions.

    The Girl Who Loved Stories
    I’m a feminist because the message is still "don’t get raped" not "don’t rape"

    by Avilyn on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:27:31 AM PDT

  •  Parallels the days leading up to 2008 election (15+ / 0-)

    exactly, with respect to how they treated President Obama. The concern trolling of the media terrified of the gaffes he would make in his overseas trip was overwhelming. No such concern was expressed for Romney, and look what happened.

    It is easy to confirm that, repeatedly, these were the descriptors that always managed to be worked into any statement about her gymnastic efforts or to describe this lovely 16-year-old athletic powerhouse in comparison to her (losing) teammates on the U.S. Olympic team. Even when talking heads and pundits begrudgingly acknowledge that the speed of Gabby Douglas' rise to the top of the women's Olympic mountain was meteoric, they still cannot quite grasp how it happened or why it happened.

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:31:13 AM PDT

  •  Dawes was a household name for us! (17+ / 0-)

    My partner's (white) young daughter thought she was the most talented by far of the Mag7, even though Moceanu and Strug drew all the headlines.

    Dominique was in a class of her own.. as is Gabby. Incredible young women.

    If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people. --Tony Benn

    by rhetoricus on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:31:17 AM PDT

  •  I still don't believe that (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, MisterFred, MrJersey, Odysseus

    black people would believe the depth of subtle racism that exists towards them.   In my case, growing up, there were gentle, omnipresent, and simply ceaseless intrafamilial reminders that blacks simply were not quite the same as we whites were/are.  I'm only 46 years old.  If my sweet Jewish parents would have been referred to an African-American physician, they simply would not have been able to cognitively process it, even in 1985.  

    Again, as imbued with racial awareness as they are,  I don't think blacks realize the psychological distances they have to overcome.

    From Neocon to sane- thanks to Obama- and Kos.

    by satrap on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:33:33 AM PDT

    •  I see this a lot, actually, despite being white (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mdmslle, ferg, Odysseus

      The saddest version is when black children do it to themselves, lowering their own expectations of academic performance & ability to compete in school.

      I subsitute teach now and again, and I can say it does happen, though I wouldn't call it common. Worrisome though.

      A couple of stories may or may not be applicable here. Once when substituting a computer class, I noticed that I accidentally grabbed another teacher's roll sheet while on the way to my room. I was just looking about the room to ask for a volunteer to take the roll sheets back (and noting the quiet ones, so I could pick them if they volunteered) when a young kid came up to me. He was black, had one of those stupid big tee-shirts with sequins on it that seem popular nowadays. He asked to go to the bathroom. Now normally, I don't let kids go to the bathroom just when class starts (that's what passing period is for), but hey, two birds with one stone. I let him go, and asked him to take the roll sheets back to the classroom I picked them up from.

      He took the roll sheets, looking first confused, then surprised, then really happy. This confused me in turn, because I thought nothing of it. I was focused on figuring out how to keep the class relatively behaved when they had no real work to do.

      The kid went off, and I pondered his strange reaction. I still wonder today if he was surprised and pleased I trusted him to do something 'official'. I may have (by complete accident) done my most important act of teaching for that month right there, simply by trusting the young man without thinking about it. Or not.

      The second story is a little shorter. My sister's name is Shantara. So when she goes to a job interview, employers are often very surprised when a blonde, blue-eyed girl shows up. She does very well in interviews... when she actually gets them. Does it have much to do with her name and a pleasantly-surprised employer? Can't be sure. She thinks so, though.

  •  It cuts even deeper (17+ / 0-)

    Absolutely, as far as Black women are concerned.  We didn't hear that much about the men's gymnastic team this year either, even though it did better than American men's gymnasts do in years when Russia is competing, because both of the top gymnasts, Dannell Leyva and John Orozco, yes, men of color.

    Thanks for all the material on Dominique Dawes, though. I wondered what she had done to the NBC people that forced them not to acknowledge her at all. One more reason to dislike NBC sports!

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:35:04 AM PDT

    •  Leyva's father is a character though, and that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave in Northridge

      makes for good TV.  And men's gymnastics isn't all that popular with the NBC execs anyway.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:46:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (10+ / 0-)

    For this outstanding diary.  I'd rec it a hundred times if I could.  Well done!

    "The diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty." James Madison

    by mslat27 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:35:39 AM PDT

  •  Flipped on the tube and saw Gabby (18+ / 0-)

    (an unknown to me at the time) do some amazing feat, and thought to myself, "wow, she is really good!"  Then the commentator chimes in with some rather deprecating remark about her problems with concentration, as if to say don't believe your lying eyes, this girl ain't goin nowhere.  

    •  They kept priming the audience (8+ / 0-)

      to expect a problem, and there never was one and then in turn, those very many mistakes that Wieber made (highest finish on any apparatus was the 6th she got on the floor) were characterized as "three little" mistakes had kept her from competing.  It wasn't mistakes that kept her out of the competition.  It was her performance.  She just wasn't as good. Not as good as the others on her team, and not as good as the people who excelled on individual apparati.  She placed 12th, 12th, 6th and 3rd on the vault.  But the two people who placed 1st and 2nd on the vault (her best event) were on her team.  So the one thing she did best overall, she was directly bested by her teammates.  That kind of a performance does not, an Olympic champion make.  

      And we're still waiting for those imminent mistakes that Gabby is destined to make, however.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:23:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  dawn harper (21+ / 0-)
    The more 100-meter hurdles races Harper wins, the more famous her teammate Lolo Jones becomes. In Beijing, Harper took the gold medal, while Jones clipped a hurdle and stumbled to seventh place.

    Coming into these Olympics, Jones appeared in BP Team USA ads and posed in a bikini on the cover of Outside magazine. After Harper won the trials, Jones was invited to “The Tonight Show,” where she discussed her virginity with Jay Leno. Jones is blond, biracial and lissome, while Harper is short, black, muscular and from East St. Louis, like Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the gold medal-winning heptathlete who was once taunted that she looked like “a gorilla.”

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:37:33 AM PDT

  •  Bravo n/t (6+ / 0-)

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:44:44 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for this excellent diary, shanikka. (11+ / 0-)

    I do remember Dominique Dawes, and that 10.00 performance  (although she didn't look nearly as young to me then as she does now ;) ).

    How disappointing to see that things don't change, even with all the years and all the work to do just that.  It's very slow.

    Great diary.

    Remember. Bring them home. . "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now!" Rev. William Barber

    by edsbrooklyn on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:47:12 AM PDT

  •  And the most positive thing they've said about her (7+ / 0-)

    is about her smile.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:47:36 AM PDT

  •  Maybe an apropos sidenote (19+ / 0-)

    but the most moving part of the Opening Ceremony, to me at least, was Emeli Sandé's haunting rendition of Abide With Me, as a tribute or memorial to the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attack on the London Underground. Just superb, and that entire huge stadium fell silent for it.

    Except that the U.S. audience never got to see that, given that NBC cut that segment out and replaced it with Ryan Seacrest interviewing Michael Phelps. Because we clearly, as a nation, don't get enough Ryan Seacrest.

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:48:24 AM PDT

  •  If you look at the team shots, she's on the left, (5+ / 0-)

    wearing her warm ups, almost obscured by the coach.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:48:25 AM PDT

  •  And how about (10+ / 0-)

    How About skater Debi Thomas, now a doctor?
    Different sport but just as much a forgotten champion.
     Maybe someday...............

  •  How much you wanna bet that the focus now turns (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, mapamp

    to Lolo Jones.  Forget all the other female track and field athletes, it will be all Lolo all the time.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:51:55 AM PDT

  •  Beautiful and heartbreaking diary (8+ / 0-)

    thank you.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:52:53 AM PDT

  •  Smiling from ear to ear I chatted with family and (8+ / 0-)

    friends about Gabby's future: She's going to get all these endorsements, after she retires she'll become a coach, maybe she'll have a training gym or become a sports commentator.  Then I thought of the Williams sisters.  None of that is going to happen, is it?

    Great diary.  As for Fox Sports (never news) they are actually pretty freaking good about covering sports.  So, snapping up Dominique Dawes doesn't surprise me.

  •  And did you notice no love for Cullen Jones either (8+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 08:56:20 AM PDT

  •  Angry (5+ / 0-)

    I'm surprised that word wasn't on the list of adjectives used to describe her. I suspect the only thing stopping it was her incredibly positive and upbeat demeanor despite having been so consistently underestimated.

    Anyone taking the coverage of Gabby's performance at face value would have been very surprised when she won. It was so obvious that the commentators expected and wanted Jordyn and Aly to be the stars and were shocked and disappointed when Jordyn failed to qualify and they had to go with Aly and Gabby instead.

  •  Gabby had incredible strength and belief (16+ / 0-)

    in herself.

    In reading about her and watching video footage over the past few days, you find that when she was 12, she watched Shawn Johnson win gold with her Liang Chow.

    Gabby said to everyone -- no one believing her at the time -- I could do that. She picked the coach because not only had he coached Shawn Johnson to a gold medal, but she said it looked like they were having fun. (She's clearly still having fun.)

    Gabby also said she realized at 12 that her current coaches had nothing left to teach her. She'd learned all they knew. (That, to me, is an incredible statement for a 12-year-old to make. Incredibly smart. These people have nothing left to teach me. I need a better coach.)

    She said even Chow, when she first went to him and said she thought she could be another Shawn Johnson, responded with, "Well... I'll do my best." But he obviously had his doubts, said she had the athletic ability but hadn't yet found the focus necessary to be a champion.

    So she clearly believes in herself more than anyone else does, and that belief and determination has taken her to the top.

  •  black women? respect? (0+ / 0-)

    When I see someone getting out the vote for Barack Obama, he is your only way forward.
    Sadly, the only blacks I ever see are the black republicons lying on Fox news!

  •  I read a quote somewhere (12+ / 0-)

    that Dawes was SO HAPPY to take down the line on her website stating that she was the only African-American gymnast to win gold.

    It gives a lovely light.

    by CayceP on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:04:39 AM PDT

  •  For you shannika... (28+ / 0-)

    because this diary rocks!!!!!


    Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by NLinStPaul on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:06:21 AM PDT

  •  Spectacular Gold Metal diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, denig

    Thank you so much for this!

    Stepford Annie Romney is a member of teabagger Palin's mean-girls squad! Good luck with that Ann

    by BlueFranco on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:10:06 AM PDT

  •  I just wish we had more coverage of the OTHER (7+ / 0-)

    black women from around the world that are competing.

    In fact, I wish we had more coverage of the other black MEN that are competing.

    And indeed the other PEOPLE OF ANY COLOR from around the world that are competing.

    Every time around the Olympics coverage gets more and more narrow. Watching the NBC coverage doesn't give any idea of the number of events or the number of nations participating in the games.

    It essentially boils down to a Cold War narrative (U.S. vs. China, U.S. vs. Russia, and to a lesser extent U.S. vs. the nameless others that are essentially satellites of the "good" [U.S.] or the "bad" [China and Russia] nations) told via gymnastics, swimming, diving, track, etc.

    What about the other events? What about the other nations?

    Why can't we share in the joy of some of the other participants? Tiny nations that have contingents in the single digits? People competing in games under trying circumstances? People in the games against all odds that are there to represent the diversity of earth?

    Sure, Gabby is a nice story and the state of race as an issue in America is a dismal one. But how about the state of race as an issue around the world, where in many ways it is much, much worse?

    The global perspective is sorely missing from American life, and nowhere is this more evident than in the coverage of the Olympic Games over the last few years.

    -9.63, 0.00
    I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

    by nobody at all on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:11:16 AM PDT

    •  I Personally DO (12+ / 0-)

      Celebrate the accomplishments of other nations.  Which is why I miss when ABC, and not NBC, had the games.  Many international sports stars -- including people of color -- became known to us precisely because it made a point of covering the world's athletic stars even as it also "rah rahed" ours too.

      •  Me, too. And I should say that I didn't mean (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shanikka, fou, poco, mapamp

        to diminish Gabby. My wife and I both loved watching her; she's amazingly vivacious and has a gleam in her eye of that special sort that tends to make positive things happen around her.

        We also both laughed at the way in which we was left out of the coverage as an essential also-ran until she suddenly won. Because of course that wasn't how the narrative was planned or supposed to go. You could almost hear NBC having to recalibrate their profit machine when those that they had been selling had to take a step back and let Gabby shine.

        But we also felt that there were so many individuals and stories hinted at in the opening ceremonies that we wanted to follow—and that we essentially can't.

        I hope Gabby inspires another generation of young people of color (I say this as a halfie that has never been accepted by either ethnic population to which I'm assumed to "belong") and in fact, I'm sure that she will. She's the inspiring type.

        -9.63, 0.00
        I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

        by nobody at all on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:25:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Can't agree with all of your diary, (0+ / 0-)

        or thinking that there is "no basis" for questioning Ye Shiwen's results, but I totally agree with the ABC comment.  

        Jim McKay, Howard Cosell and the network that created the "Wide World of Sports" understood that the Olympics is the ultimate world's celebration of sports. But back to Ryan Seacrest and more Team USA puff pieces...    

        •  You Know (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That type of thinking is the same type of thinking that folks trot out to justify stop and frisk - a Black man committed a crime so we can't presume the innocence of 700,000 of them.

          If the British OC and IOC both said there was no doping after testing that should have been the END of it.  But NOOOOOOOO.  Costas and the NBC racist enterprise and US media haven't shut up yet about it.

      •  ABC also showed a bit of local color (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shanikka, denig

        For all that I see of London in the coverage, these competitions could be taking places in Des Moines.

        I so miss ABC.

        •  Great point! (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shanikka, wasatch, ferg, kat herder

          It's been sooo long I forgot about those random local flavor stories!  

          Somewhere up there Jim McKay is in his yellow blazer and interviewing Joe Strummer.  Strummer is in a black jumpsuit and giving the backstory to "London Calling."

          And somewhere down here, Seacrest is asking Michelle Beadle who this Clash group is.

  •  Gabby sure didn't get to the top by accident. (15+ / 0-)

    I don't usually follow gymnastics, but watching her perform I was impressed-- not just with her skill, but also her smile and her confidence.  Many of the other girls seemed overwhelmed by the stress of it all.  Gabby makes it clear in the Dominique Dawes interview above, that she is ambitious, but not just for herself-- she wants to inspire other young people.

    Her mom deserves so much credit for Gabby's success as well.  Also from the Dominique Dawes interview (I'm going to paraphrase, here) Gabby's mom says something like:

    It was her dream.  It was my job to support it, not to take over.
  •  Simple answers: racism and sexism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mdmslle, shanikka

    Now, as to how to fix them after 50 years of nonstop trying, I just don't know.

    My dog is a member of Dogs Against Romney: He rides inside.

    by adigal on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:16:48 AM PDT

  •  On Morning Joe, a week or so before the Olympics (10+ / 0-)

    began, they had on their usual Time magazine rep, I think it was, as Time had done a spread on the US athletes, and they asked the guy who he thought was being under-appreciated, and was the person on the US teams to watch, and without hesitation, he chose Gabby.

  •  One comment to go with your (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fou, mamamedusa, mapamp, shanikka, laurnj, mali muso

    two clips from FOX with Dominique Dawes -- I'm truly impressed because the first one with Gabby looks like it was filmed June 27.  And the second one with the blond sportscaster was actually wonderful because the blond asked excellent questions and never once interrupted Dominique, who was clearly emotional.

    So, kudos to FOX.  

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:18:27 AM PDT

  •  Most people are not aware how much (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    their perceptions are influenced by superficial optics and their preference for seeing what they already know.  I suspect the human brain is prejudiced towards prejudice, towards what is already known, as opposed to the new.  To a certain extent, this lack of awareness may be a necessary filter, if we are not to be overwhelmed by our environment.  After all, we now recognize that both autistic and hyper active children have difficulties with perception because their filters don't work as they do for what we consider "normal" people.
    I think it is well understood in some circles (at least by script-writers for soaps) that new information has to be presented three times before it even registers.  So, if something is to stick, it has to be repeated many times more.
    I suspect that individuals who are more fixated on their accomplishments, rather than being recognized, are reluctant to "waste" the time necessary to get full exposure and rise to media prominence.  Athletes who get lots of attention do so because they have flacks, people who flog their story around.
    Video, especially with synchronized sound is still very time-consuming.  Professional football gets the kind of coverage it does because they have more than a dozen cameras focused on the same action, several "directors" in the control room and "color commentators" whose sound can be mixed in to get rid of bad audio.
    Everything in TV is scripted.  That Gabby came as a surprise is annoying to the people who like to be on top of things.  And being annoyed makes them feel guilty and that's something else to avoid. TV land is used to being catered to--to having pundits who keep them in the loop and alert them to stories.
    Also, commercials are an impediment.  Indeed, the need to go to commercial at specific, pre-scheduled times for pre-determined seconds is what makes it necessary for the rest of every program to be scripted. That's one of the reason al Jazeera is being kept out of the U.S. market.  Although al Jazeera is commercial, they only run their ads on the half hour.  Which means that interview programs have much greater leeway to discuss things or cover events in depth.  The al Jazeera model is much more consumer friendly, so the American industry doesn't want the competition.  And American enterprise has always expected to be catered to and have its markets protected.
    Personally, I don't care.  I don't get TV, except for what I can stream over the computer. But, I think it's unwise to focus on racism and sexism for explanations of poor customer service. We've got a whole slew of industries that are going down the tube because they refuse to serve and insist on clinging to monopolies and various kinds of subsidies that discourage change. Foreign car makers ate our lunch because Detroit made crappy cars at the behest of people who were fixated on superficial attributes like fins and grills and fake leopard skin seat covers.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:18:56 AM PDT

    •  it's not unwise to focus on racism and sexism (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shanikka, mapamp, laurnj, poco, a2nite, denig, doroma

      because it exists and is real, as this diary so eloquently points out.

      and BTW, yes, commercial media is a problem. But that doesn't mean it's "unwise" to focus on the issue at hand.

      For the record, I am not a member of Courtesy Kos. Just so you know. Don't be stupid. It's election season. My patience is short.

      by mdmslle on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:42:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fine, if it makes you feel good, do it. (0+ / 0-)

        But, you're just reinforcing your own prejudice.

        The people who denigrate black people and women don't do it because they hate them.  They do it because they need someone to feel superior to. Pointing out their racist and sexist attitudes does not  make them feel better and is not likely to improve their attitudes.

        I just think energy and time would be better spent promoting and publicizing positive achievements, rather than whining about being ignored.

        Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

        by hannah on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:17:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  whining? is that how you describe this diary? (9+ / 0-)


        •  well you're wrong. sorry. (6+ / 0-)

          no one is whining, first of all.

          Second of all, the very point of he diary is that despite "promoting and publicising" the positive achievements, black women are often ignored (at best) anyway and denigrated at worst.

          Egad. Look at Barack Obama. He is a black man who has achievement much and yet he receives a level of disrespect I've never seen toward an american president.

          We do try to accentuate the positive achievements. We will continue to do so. I'm not able to change people's attitudes. I'm not responsible for what I cannot change. And frankly you're very ill informed if you believe that promoting positive achievements would be enough to change the attitudes of racists anyway, as if Hitler was changed after watching the achievements of Jesse Owens.

          Pay attention. this diary wasn't pulled out of the diarist's ass. There is great historical precedent for the assertions made in it no matter what you "think".

          For the record, I am not a member of Courtesy Kos. Just so you know. Don't be stupid. It's election season. My patience is short.

          by mdmslle on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:15:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  ABC "This Week" is talking about her (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl

    right now.

    "The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends." -Julian Assange

    by Pierro Sraffa on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:19:35 AM PDT

  •  I had to take a peek at Stormfront... (10+ / 0-)

    ...let's just say the white supremacy demographic is having some trouble processing Gaby's win.

    While it shames me to share skin pigment and ancestry with these goons, watching them freak the hell out is damn satisfying.  It's like watching one's dirtbag cousin finally do hard time after a decade of stealing from all his relatives.

    "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win". Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by DaveinBremerton on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:22:04 AM PDT

  •  thank you for speaking truth (7+ / 0-)

    Gabby Douglas is one of the all time greats.  NBC's coverage the night she won was embarassing in it's incompetence, favortism, and racism.  The entire night she led the all round competition yet the commentators acted like she was losing!  Her performance on the vault was masterful and "vaulted" her into first place yet the commentators were "meh" in their description of her performance pointing out what they claimed were major errors even though the score reflected a much a different reality as did the other gymnasts's vaults.  The commentators and cameras spent more time talking about and focusing on Weiber in the stands than on Douglas in the events.  Even at the end when Douglas clinched gold it was an anticlimactic moment met with more shock than joy by the commentators.  Also the surprise was insulting considering she was the TOP rated gymnast coming out of the team competition into the all round. She was the FAVORITE!  Even if she was a surprising contender coming out of nationals all of that was behind her after the team competition.

    Also no disrepect to Mary Lou, but she didn't have to beat the Soviets in '84 because of the boycott.  Her path to gold was far easier than Douglas's. One could make a legitimate argument that Douglas is the greatest woman gymnast in US history and one of the all time greatest Olympians.  

    I take political action every day. I teach.

    by jbfunk on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:23:07 AM PDT

  •  And a shout out to Elizabeth 'Ebee' Price of Pa. (6+ / 0-)

    Price of Upper Saucon Township in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania has one of the best Amanar vaults in the world. She has trained at the Parkettes National Gymnastics Training Center on Martin Luther King Drive in Allentown since she was 3 and started competing at age 6.

    Although she finished fourth in the Olympic trials. Ebee was not selected to the five-person team to compete in London. But was selected as the first alternate member of the team.  As such she traveled to London with the team.  

    (Only the winner of the trials gets an automatic slot. The other four members were chosen by a three-person committee.)


    You’re Damn Right Obama Cares. Why Doesn’t Romney?. ~HELEN of

    by denig on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:25:21 AM PDT

  •  Perplexed. (7+ / 0-)
    But so far, Wieber doesn’t seem shaken. Asked what it felt like to lose to Douglas, she seemed perplexed.
    Child was perplexed!

    And the great thing about Gabby is that she lapped all these girls and she's only sixteen!  

    I have an advantage because I’m the underdog and I’m black and no one thinks I’d ever win,” she said. “Well, I’m going to inspire so many people. Everybody will be talking about, how did she come up so fast? But I’m ready to shine.
    Yep! Yep! Yep!  I know exactly what's she's talking about!  Gabby you are so inspiring!  I am fired up now! I'm going to be perplexin' fools left and right!

    Have you googled Romney today?

    by fou on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:27:18 AM PDT

  •  a bit of over-reach (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "ought to have be a household name before the games" ? !

    you and i live in different bubbles.

    2 weeks ago Dominique Dawes and the one with the broken foot would have been the only 2 names I could have recalled from the 'Magnificent 7(!)', although i was unaware of that there was a "Name(!)" for their collective unit until being beaten over the head with branding reminders since Olympic coverage kicked off in earnest this month.  

    For what its worth,  I found pre event hype to be generous toward Gabby.   Of course, I'm not plugged into the creepy backstage soap opera of the U.S.A. Gymnastics.  Soon enough I'll be back to the business of forgetting all of this until next time.

    She ought to be proud, as a human and as an American I find her admirable.   I hope she inspires somebody and moves on to other success, but  she isn't due undying fame.  

    And anyway, how often does undying fame go to those who 'deserve' it?

  •  When I saw those Russian girls crying (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mdmslle, shanikka, mapamp, dtruth

    I almost felt like tweeting:  "Boy, I haven't seen white people cry this hard over a black woman's triumph since the Cooley campaign."  But I didn't.  I refrained.  Mainly because I don't think those tears from the Russian girls had anything to do with racism and was kinda sad to see.  

    Whatever the media bias against Gabby Douglas, she won and is a champion.  That can't be taken away from her.  

    Check out my new blog:

    by SoCalLiberal on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:30:24 AM PDT

  •  Gabby! (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fou, shanikka, mapamp, mali muso, Terri, kat herder

      When I watched the US Trials and IMO, she was treated as an outsider, even after she won them outright.  I watched the awards ceremony and she was outside the circle of girls when the team was announced.  If she hadn't won them outright - I doubt she would have been on the floor in London.
        She is a great winner -the point is that she shouldn't have to have been raised to accept the "outside" treatment.
         This from a white little ol lady - who was impressed  by both her grace under pressure and embarrassed by the treatment she received from some of her team mates, coaches and press.

  •  hey gabrielle douglas (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fou, shanikka, mapamp

    you go girl!!!

  •  1992 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, mapamp, dtruth

    Thank you for reminding all of us of her great performances. I would really suggest looking at her 1992 perfect 10 floor exercise. The second tumbling run was just amazing.

  •  Dr. Julianne Malveaux (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, mapamp, Terri

    is LIVE on CSPAN (2) Book TV this  morning for three hours speaking on her life, career and mostly her words from numerous books.  Listening to her sharp wit and large body of academic and economic knowledge is powerful!

    Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up...East Wing Rules

    by Pithy Cherub on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:38:19 AM PDT

  •  The commentators pissed me off during the All- (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, mapamp, HCKAD, mali muso, poco

    around team final and qualifying competition, the way they were dissing Gabby was disrespectful. I was like ok

    was she not the one who won the USA Olympics qualifying competition?

    was she not the one who qualified for the all-around singles?

    was she not the ONLY fab five who performed in all four apparatus, for the all-around finals?

    is she not the ONLY fab five who qualified  in multiple single apparatus this coming week?

    OK then

    Now, that she is the ONLY american to win both all-around team and singles, they are hipping praises, PLEASE.

  •  wow. what a diary!! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mdmslle, shanikka, mapamp, poco

    I didn't know half this stuff.


    "A recent study reveals Americans' heads are larger than they were 150 years ago but sadly there is no indication that the extra room is used for anything." - entlord

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:42:34 AM PDT

  •  Callie Crossley (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, mapamp, poco, Terri, denig, CocoaLove

    Just to mention another fantastically talented black woman who should have more recognition.  She has a great radio talk show on Boston public radio during weekdays, and also shows up on various television programs as a commentator.  But I think her talents and intelligence, curiosity and ability to come up with really interesting questions and keep the conversation flowing really shines on her own weekday show.  Wish there were more of her.

    Callie Crossley on WGBH Boston

  •  Brianna Scurry (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, mapamp, Odysseus, poco, denig
    After the Olympics, more wins were to come. In 1999, with Scurry on goal, the U.S. Women's team won the most important series in soccer, the World Cup. With 90,000 fans watching in the Rose Bowl--the largest crowd ever for a women's sporting event--the United States went into overtime with China. The game would be decided by penalty kicks. In penalty play, each team is given five chances to kick a goal. Five of China's best kickers would send balls flying straight at Scurry. A penalty kick is one of the most difficult to block because of the sheer intent of the kicker. As quoted in The Boston Globe, Coach Tony DiCicco told Scurry, "Make one [save] and you're a hero." With a flying horizontal dive, she stopped one of China's balls, allowing the U.S. to clinch a victory.
    And yet everybody remembers Mia Hamm and that girl who ran around in her sports bra.

    Have you googled Romney today?

    by fou on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:44:48 AM PDT

  •  speaking of hair (14+ / 0-)
    Gymnastics all-around champ Gabby Douglas not bothered by hair comments

    “I don’t know where this is coming from. What’s wrong with my hair?” said Douglas, the first U.S. gymnast to win gold in team and all-around competition. “I’m like, ‘I just made history and people are focused on my hair?’ It can be bald or short, it doesn’t matter about (my) hair.”

    Douglas uses gel, clips and a ponytail holder to keep things in place while she competes, a style she’s worn for years.

    She added she has no plans to change her hairstyle anytime soon.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:45:21 AM PDT

  •  thank you (6+ / 0-)

    for helping me see the bias I am so often blind to.

    i've seen kingdoms blow like ashes in the winds of change but the power of truth is the fuel for the flame -- emily saliers

    by rose quartz on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:45:51 AM PDT

  •  Gabrielle Douglas----- a shining star! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mdmslle, shevas01, shanikka, mapamp, denig

    "But the protesters were only armed with chalk---the cops had guns and batons----and they were beating the protesters."

    by lyvwyr101 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:45:56 AM PDT

  •  This diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, mapamp



    "May today be as great as yesterday, and tomorrow be greater than both!" Author, Sharon B.

    by secret38b on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:48:34 AM PDT

  •  Outstanding diary. Shame it can still be written (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, mapamp

    in this day and age.  And to think of all the names you didn't mention.  We'd be here for months if you'd tried to get them all in.  Sigh.

    Continued blessings and success to our shining stars!  We know you're out there!!

    End the wars! Single payer now!

    by HCKAD on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 09:55:32 AM PDT

  •  Kyla Ross is a woman of color too. (8+ / 0-)

    "During her routine on the uneven bars – which was once known as America's weakest event – Ross earned a score of 14.933 and later, topped that score after she earned 15.133 on the balance beam. " -- USA Today

    Kyla's dad is Black/Japanese and her mom is Filipino/Puerto Rican.

    There are many women, including my spouse, who can see themselves in Kyla. In many ways, young women like her are the new face of the U.S.

    We cheer for them all, but we lament that some roads are harder to travel because of long-held prejudicial beliefs.

    Good diary. Thanks.

  •  wow so much to digest, thank you for writing this. (8+ / 0-)

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:08:32 AM PDT

  •  Fantastic Diary! Thank you. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp, shanikka, KayCeSF
  •  This diary needs to be read by (6+ / 0-)

    every sports writer, editor and commentator. It needs to be studied by every network executive, every editor in chief and every media ombudsman.   It needs to be discussed in every journalism class in the country.

    Thank you.

  •  Always love your writing Shanikka (5+ / 0-)

    You too, deserve recognition as an African-American female blogger, of which there are too few and not enough recognition.  And you do all this while holding down, presumably, a full time job as a lawyer.  Kudos to Dailykos for amplifying your voice on the front page.

    •  Thank You! (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think I'm all that (my Black woman heroine blogger is Denise Oliver Velez, just in case I have not made that publicly clear) but I am grateful that folks from time to time think I have written something worthwhile.

  •  Olympians (5+ / 0-)

    Great post, Shanikka! Watching Gabrielle Douglas perform was so inspiring, it brought me to tears. Just the sheer power of will, persistence, and drive, and a million other nameless things, were there for all to see. And with it, the pride that comes from working hard enough to be the very best. This is why watching Serena and Venus Williams play tennis is so amazing -- to harness that kind of power in a game or even a simple movement, knowing that's the very pinnacle of what a body can do, is a remarkable experience.

    Life is a shipwreck. But we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. — Voltaire

    by agrenadier on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:21:15 AM PDT

  •  She is a great athlete, (0+ / 0-)

    and the fact that she is Black is irrelevant in a society that should see people, not color.

  •  So awesome. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In my opinion, that's one of the best stories of the Olympics.

    But the medal is bigger than she is! :D

  •  I have been upset at the lack of coverage Gabby (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has been given since she won the all around. I remember when Mary-Lou won her perfect 10s and when Kerry stuck that landing on vault even when injured. But I also remember Dawes because, as a white girl, I was impressed to finally see some color on our gymnastics team (there was an asian girl too, Amy Chow). And I was proud of all our girls and that they reflected the best in America. But it was Kerry that got the adulation that year. And this year, even though she didn't make the individual all-around, it appears that Jordon is the one who is getting all the adulation DESPITE Gabby being the actual winner, deservedly so (Gabby deserved the win). The white girl who FAILED is going to outshine the black girl who WON. Only in America....

    As a personal note, I worked with a wonderful woman in my previous employment. Hard working, accurate, caused me no problems, and was quite frankly my favorite employee (which is a no-no for an HR person to say). She could have easily done my job and it still bothers me that she will not be allowed the opportunity to do that. Why? Because she is black, she's a woman, and she has no college degree. She is just as intelligent as I am, if not more so because she is older and wiser, she is a fast learner, and she would be an asset to any company that would hire her. However, she has always been an assistant (expect when working for me ~ I promoted her as high as I was allowed to do so). A wonderful, talented woman, who's true potential will not be harnessed because people will not give her the chance. Like me, she still hasn't found work after our company closed. I will be sure to snatch her up if I get a position before she does. But even if I do, my future bosses will only see her potential if I lobby hard for her. And that is a failure of our society. That is why Gabby won't receive the accolades that were showered on Retton & Strong.  

    Earth: Mostly harmless ~ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (revised entry)

    by yawnimawke on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:50:10 AM PDT

  •  I've been watching BBC coverage (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, johnosahon, mali muso

    rather than NBC. I don't know if it's just me, but the coverage seems far less biased in the way the diarist identifies with NBC.

    Of course the BBC hasn't put US athletes under the microscope, but in following the UK Black athletes, I never got the sense of such bigotry.  BBC/UK seem to celebrate their Black athletes equally.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities" Voltaire.

    by JWK on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 10:54:34 AM PDT

    •  Rampant and open racism really is unique to the US (0+ / 0-)

      , as hard as that may be to believe.

      "...I just want you to know there are BILLIONS of us rooting for you..." Sir Paul McCartney

      by eden4barack08 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:22:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It isn't "hard to believe" - it's false. (0+ / 0-)

        This article from the Independent may change your mind.  (Google "plastic Brits" for more on the subject.)

        Did you miss the case of the Greek athlete booted from the Olympic team (just before the Games) after making an arguably racist tweet?

        Or the Swiss footballer sent home after naming South Koreans "retards"?

        Or the Lebanese judo team's demand for a curtain in the training hall, so they wouldn't have to see Israeli athletes?

        Or the Lithuanian basketball fans?

        •  "Rampant and open" where the KEY words there. (0+ / 0-)

          When a racist comment made by a GOP member is as publicly and immediately rebuked  as it was in the UK, then I might change my mind.
          Until then, the US is the ONLY western civilized country with a MAJOR political party OPENLY embracing a politics of racial division.
          Key word there again, in case you miss it, is MAJOR political party.

          "...I just want you to know there are BILLIONS of us rooting for you..." Sir Paul McCartney

          by eden4barack08 on Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 08:36:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, why didn't you say so? (0+ / 0-)

            When you come into a discussion of racism in the Olympics, sports and sports media and reply to a comment about BBC and NBC coverage of the Olympics with nothing more than:

            Rampant and open racism really is unique to the US, as hard as that may be to believe.
            it's completely reasonable for the reader to think that you're referring to the Olympics, sports and sports media, yes?

            No offense intended, but we can't read your mind...that's why I gave examples of "rampant and open" racism from non-US sources in the current Olympics.

  •  Okay DK doesn't seem to be working for me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, mali muso

    And I cannot REC the thread, although I can tip it.  Anyway, Dominque won 1 team gold and 3 individual bronzes at the Olympic level.

    Anyway, spot on with your diary.  I thought the Friday NBC broadcast of the 1996 team was strange and even disturbing.  Even though Shannon Miller did not win the all around, she was still the celebrated American champion.  They hadn't given Kerri Strugs that much props like ever.  

    And I didn't even know that she was that badly injured.  Bela should have been ashamed of himself to have that girl sacrifice her body in that way for gold.

    It made me sick.

    It's plain and simple:  NBC and the corporations whores banked on Jordyn Wieber, although they should have gottenn the memo when she lost to Douglas at Nationals.  That got into her hand and she couldn't shake it and Douglas proved to be a bit better than Wieber when it all counted.  That's Olympic pressure and one has to be able to block it all out.

    Plus, Jordyn's mother comes off as a bit of a stage mom to me -- I'm just sayin', she seems to be a bit overly hyped up -- like that parent who is the personal coach of the guy on the men's team.  I can at least give him a pass because he is actual coaching his son, but he was a bit too jacked up for me.

    "No, I'm being judged against the ideal. Joe Biden has a saying: 'Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." --President Barack Obama, 12/11/11

    by smoothnmellow on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:13:23 AM PDT

    •  "helicopter parents" are universal. (0+ / 0-)

      Heck, we reward them with television shows in the US - ever see "Dance Moms"?  Ecch.

      Wieber's mother is just like countless other parents at that level.  As the parent of three athletes, I see it on a routine basis.

  •  A moving interview of Gabby by Dawkins: (5+ / 0-)

    "...I just want you to know there are BILLIONS of us rooting for you..." Sir Paul McCartney

    by eden4barack08 on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:21:01 AM PDT

  •  I coached gymnastics at a (3+ / 0-)

    gymnastics school many years ago (in the 1970s until about the 1980.   My then boy friend and I opened a small gym after the "Nadia" Olympic games.  

    It is a very white, very affluent sport.  Our gym was not all that expensive but still enough to keep us paying the rent on the place, and eventually hiring people to help us.  We were both full time teachers, and the gym was only open after school and in the evenings and on Saturdays.  

    We had no children of color until about three years into the gym.  My boyfriend was a PE teacher at the opposite end of town, in a school with a minority majority population.   He also coached the women's team at one of the district's high school.  He had an African American student at the elementary school who he believed had natural talent.  And so we had her come on a scholarship basis.  She was great but when my boyfriend stopped teaching at the school to devote full time to the gym, he could no longer transport her to the classes.  Her mom was a single mom and it was hit and miss with attendance.  Few of the gyms that opened up in the city besides ours, were in the areas of town accessible (walkable) to the minority neighborhoods.
    That was the reality back then.   Money, transportation and time were required of the parents with girls into the sport.

    I have not been involved in the sport since the 80s but still follow it.  Dominique Dawes, to me, was absolutely the best of the "Magnificent Seven."  I never felt she was given enough credit.    She was  and remains a mature, talented wonderful asset to the sport, and was, imo, the best all around athlete of that group.    

    The first time I saw Gabby compete on television I was mesmerized.  Immediately I believed she was IT,  i.e.  THE gymnast of this Olympic games.  I knew that the NBC commentator Dagget would get it wrong.  He always does. 8(    
    But in some ways, I was glad Gabby was not put under the microscope.  I think she could have handled it but's so unfair to put so much pressure on these kids.  

    Dominique and Gabby, I think, will perhaps open the sport in terms of young girls in the minority community seeing the possibilities for them in gymnastics.   Dominique started it, and Gabby has blown it wide open.
    Yes, there is still bias in the form of stupidity and surprise but hopefully, this will help change things.  It has been a too slow process.  But it is happening.  
    Gabby is a sweetheart.......she's mature (despite her tiny size that keeps her looking like a little girl); she smart; she funny and she has a natural sense of how to handle the press.  Her mother was obviously a great and talented person who parented well.  I saw Dominque's interview (it was on the Grio) and I cried with her as she talked about Gabby and her mom.  I am not sure how much  sports viewers understand about the amount of hard work and sacrifice it takes for these young girls to achieve the level they have.   I applaud all of their families and I mostly applaud the young ladies because they have worked so hard.  

    Gabby is a star, a gymnastics star, a media star and a class act.  No one can deny her any of that.

  •  Beautiful, powerful piece of writing! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, poco

    I'm so proud of Gabby!  

    This diary should be forwarded to all the networks!  And especially, Gabby should receive a copy!

    Thank you!

    I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

    by KayCeSF on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 11:37:38 AM PDT

  •  I resent the dismissal of Gabby's FATHER (9+ / 0-)

    who is NOT some deadbeat.


    he's not some Black man who ran out on the family.


    •  Fair Comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, poco

      By referring to Gabby's mother as single, I did not clarify as I should have that her father was there, until service to the country called him away.  I focused too much on the fact that he has indeed been gone (for good reasons) for almost 1/2 of Gabby's life and that he and Natalie Hawkins are getting a divorce.

      So thank you for correcting my wrongness in that.

  •  Great post, thank you for this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thank you for the incredible information and insight you've gathered into this post. And my daughter loved watching Gabby and the other gymnasts. Even I got excited.

  •  I read the diary and honestly didn't get it. After (0+ / 0-)

    looking at the comments, checking back, to some links, I think I get it a little better.

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 12:09:15 PM PDT

  •  Gabby is already inspiring teens (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mali muso, brn2bwild, shanikka

    One of my volunteers at the library said she was watching Gabby perform at McDonald's and her win was so inspiring!  I agreed.  She is an awesome gymnast that I look forward to watching more of in the future.  This particular volunteer is very ambitious herself, volunteering at the library, one of the local hospitals, holds down a part-time job and expects to graduate with honors from high school this year.  Seeing another teen who has worked hard and in the end succeeded in such a wondrous way made her very happy.

    Then I got home from work and told my husband how inspiring Gabby is.  He informed me about how some people were Tweeting about her hair, and my first thought was, "What's wrong with her hair?  She keeps it out of her face, just like every other gymnast."  Some people were trying to find something, anything, to undermine her victory.  It's so sad.

    Then I watched the interview that left out Dominique Dawes.  I spent the entire time waiting for them to talk to her, about her, and was utterly disappointed.  I loved watching her compete, and to shut her voice out like that is criminal (it was also criminal to allow Strug to injure herself when it was not needed, so it's not like we're talking about people who care about the athletes).

    On another note, has the Go Daddy commercials angered anyone else?  I would normally find it extremely offensive that a company runs a commercial portraying women as only eye candy while the men are the brains behind everything, but running this commercial during the Olympics seems an especially harsh slap in the face to all the women whose hard work and sacrifice have led them to London.

  •  They mentioned Dominique Dawes (0+ / 0-)

    ....a few times IIRC.

  •  thanks for this (4+ / 0-)

    We started noticing the disparity in coverage during the first night of qualifications.  The NBC folks kept going on and on about Jordyn and how it was so devastating and unfair that she would not get to compete for the all-around title.  In the meantime, we are watching all of the performances and thinking "wow, this Gabby girl is really killin' it!" but not hearing a peep about her from the commentators, other than to say how she probably won't handle the pressure.  When the two US women who qualified for the all-around were interviewed, Aly got questions about her excitement to be part of it, Gabby got asked negative questions about her mistakes.  And so it continued in the team competition and even into the individual all-around.  Even yesterday, watching some lame emo package about women's gymnastic team, the camera angles were all centered on Jordyn, often cutting Gabby's face off.  

    In another universe, there would be non-stop coverage of Gabby's win, slow-mo repeats of the great moments, and a blanket of promos featuring HER in the run-up to the individual events.  

  •  It's great to be able to watch all the videos on (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    brn2bwild, poco, shanikka, CocoaLove

    A somewhat odd video is the one with Bela Karolyi and Nastia Liukin discussing Gabby's all around individual win. Karolyi made an interesting point when he said she came out of nowhere, and that everyone else was world champion of this and that and that her performance was unnerving to everyone including her own teammates.  In the same video, Liukin spends a lot of her air time discussing how amazingly classy and selfless it was of Jordyn Wieber to come out and support her teamates in the stands and root for them(!) and that's why America loves Jordan or something like that.  I guess she was supposed to lock herself in the hotel room with the minbar or something.

    Gabby Douglas and her Mom and her entire family and her host family and her coach deserve so much credit for their shared belief in her talent. If this was a fictional Hollywood movie it would seem too sappy and pat to be true - unknown underdog from out of nowhere deposes gymnastic royalty and wins Olympic Gold. In my opinion it is THE story of this Olympics.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 01:25:45 PM PDT

  •  I don't think Gabby has been forgotten (0+ / 0-)

    I see her come up frequently, and rightfully so.  I think if anything, at a time when a black man is president, her groundbreaking victory will make her a symbol, for better or for worse.

    In thinking about the discussion of how she was frequently underestimated, one thing struck me.  Was it me, or during the team competition, did it seem like the other girls were hugging each other and sort of edging Gabby out?  I wonder if they were really as "united" as they were portrayed.  A friend of mine is a huge gymnastics follower, so I should get her take.

  •  I don't really see any need for the gratuitous (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    shot against Wieber. Would you prefer that she seem stunned to have been defeated by the black competitor? From the sound of it, she couldn't understand why she should feel any different about being beaten by Douglas than she would have felt about being beaten by anyone else. Isn't that how it's supposed to be?

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 02:46:34 PM PDT

  •  I haven't listened to any interviews... (0+ / 0-)

    because I find most of the talkingheads to be airheads. When I heard about the gymnastics team I was elated. Gabby was sensational. I didn't realize all this 'back-story' nonsense was going on.

    I'm of the opinion that the rights to televise the Olympics mustn't be done by a private broadcasting company. Maybe.

    Only the weak & defeated are called to account for their crimes.

    by rreabold on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 03:08:10 PM PDT

  •  Excellent thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mali muso, poco, shanikka

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 03:22:27 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for this, shanikka. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We've been doing a slow burn over the treatment of Gabrielle Douglas (among others) and her family.  This supremely focused, confident, talented young woman embodies everything the Olympics are supposed to be about . . . and they want to focus on her alleged flaws in her routines or her hair?  That's when they focus on her at all.

    Well, NBC's colossal suckitude notwithstanding, we've done our best to make sure we saw every event she's been in.

    Authentic Native American silverwork, jewelry, photography, and other art here.

    by Aji on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:10:52 PM PDT

  •  Error about Dawes's achievements (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Although I agree that respect is much harder to achieve for black girls/women than white athletes, your argument for Dominique Dawes rests on an inaccuracy. Dawes is not the only America female gymnast to win 3 gold medals. Dawes won one Olympic gold medal, not three. And while she was an All-Around champion at Nationals, she did not win an All-Around medal in the Olympics or the World Championships.

    Dawes was awesome. Her achievements were awesome and her longevity was extraordinary even compared to the extraordinary level of other Olympians. You have a valid argument that she should have been one of the gymnasts doing commentary for the London Games.  But it's hard to argue that she was better than other gymnastic greats. Her peer Shannon Miller won 2 golds and 5 other medals in the Olympics, was a repeat All-Around World Champion and won World Championship gold on the balance beam, floor and uneven bars. Dawes is not a case of the obviously dominate athlete being ignored because of race. Dawes never won an individual Olympic gold and those Olympians are rarely remembered by more than those who saw their wonderful performances.

    This doesn't in any way diminish the intentional and unintentional slights that Gabby Douglas has received in the media. She's awesome and deserves more focus on her accomplishments. Hopefully even if she retires before the next Olympics we'll be seeing her in commercials and hearing her commentary.

    when fear disappears, it's amazing what's possible

    by thoughtfulquestioning on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:15:03 PM PDT

  •  Awesome diary, shanikka! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I can't really add to all the kudos everyone has given, except, ditto!
    Like some, I didn't pay attention to the pre-coverage of the gymnastics competition, so I wasn't aware of who was on the team until right when the Olympics began. Actually, Gabby was the first of the gymnasts I had heard of or read about, simply because I saw this article in Colorlines about Olympians of color in this year's Games. I was able to watch the all-around competition in the morning on NBC's live stream and my heart was simply thudding with hope at the last part of the competition when I realized Gabby could take the gold. Before the final scores went up, I thought my heart was going to pound out of my chest, and then relief and absolute joy when I saw she had won.

    I did re-watch the primetime coverage. The live commentators are different from the primetime ones (Shannon Milller and an unknown to me British anchor comment for the live gymnastics feed). Maybe I didn't have my BS radar completely up, but I felt their commentary was fair and didn't have all the silly melodrama that characterizes prime time. Both Shannon and the British anchor said in so many words that Gabby - barring the Russian girl pulling out something special - had pretty much sealed the deal after her final floor exercise.
    Anyway, it's too bad more people don't have access to the live feed; I'm fortunate to live in a house with cable. You can watch and re-watch much of the coverage without commentary at all.

    That said, this diary is a wonderful tribute to Gabby and all the other unsung black women who has contributed so much to our country and world.  

    "Behind every great fortune is a great crime." - Honore de Balzac

    by mooremusings on Sun Aug 05, 2012 at 07:18:15 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this timely diary, Shanikka. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Would that it would stop being timely--that is, because black women would start to get appropriate recognition, honor and praise--before the next Olympics. Unfortunately, I'm not confident that that will happen in my lifetime. Maybe in my daughters'. Clearly much more work remains.
    I'm traveling so haven't had time to enter the dialogue, yet I wanted to say at least this much. I hope that you are wrong about Gabby Douglas' future prospects (endorsements etc.) but I fear you are right. All I can say is that TPTB are missing out if they don't seek her out. She is the real deal, even at 16.

  •  I do give some credit to Bob Costa (0+ / 0-)

    who actually made a little commentary acknowledging the fact that this was a breakthrough event for an african american woman. He did it knowing full well that the next day the conservative dckheads would be besides themselves accusing him of reverse racism or double reverse racism or whatever victimhood the right likes to imagine for itself.

  •  Barbara Jordan's Speech at the DNC 1976 (1+ / 0-)
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    only the first part on video. But the transcript is available completely. Would be fun to search for the whole tape in the National Archives. Should be available.


    Who Then Will Speak for the Common Good?
    New York, New York, July 12, 1976
    One hundred and fourty-four years ago, members of the Democratic Party first net in convention to select a Presidential candidate. Since that time, Democrats have continued to convene once every four years and draft a party platform and nominate a Presidential candidate. And our meeting this week is a continuation of that tradition.

    But there is something different about tonight. There is something special about tonight. What is different? What is Special? I, Barbara Jordan, am a keynote speaker.

    A lot of years passed since 1832, and during that time it would have been most unusual for any national political party to ask that a Barbara Jordan deliver a keynote address...but tonight here I am. An I feel that notwithstanding the past that my presence here is one additional bit of evidence that the American Dream need not forever be deferred.

    Now that I have this grand distinction what in the world am I supposed to say?

    I could easily spend this time praising the accomplishments of this party and attacking the Republicans but I don't choose to do that.

    I could list the many problems which Americans have. I could list the problems which cause people to feel cynical, angry, frustrated: problems which include lack of integrity in government; the feeling that the individual no longer counts; the reality of material and spiritual poverty; the feeling that the grand American experiment is failing or has failed. I could recite these problems and then I could sit down and offer no solutions. But I don't choose to do that either.

    The citizens of America expect more. They deserve and they want more than a recital of problems.

    We are a people in a quandary about the present. We are a people in search of our future. We are a people in search of a national community.

    We are a people trying not only to solve the problems of the present: unemployment, inflation...but we are attempting on a larger scale to fulfill the promise of America. We are attempting to fulfill our national purpose; to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.

    Throughout out history, when people have looked for new ways to solve their problems, and to uphold the principles of this nation, many times they have turned to political parties. They have often turned to the Democratic Party.

    What is it, what is it about the Democratic Party that makes it the instrument that people use when they search for ways to shape their future? Well I believe the answer to that question lies in our concept of governing. Our concept of governing is derived from our view of people. It is a concept deeply rooted in a set of beliefs firmly etched in the national conscience, of all of us.

    Now what are these beliefs?

    First, we believe in equality for all and privileges for none. This is a belief that each American regardless of background has equal standing in the public forum, all of us. Because we believe this idea so firmly, we are inclusive rather than an exclusive party. Let everybody come.

    I think it no accident that most of those emigrating to America in the 19th century identified with the Democratic Party. We are a heterogeneous party made up of Americans of diverse backgrounds.

    We believe that the people are the source of all governmental power; that the authority of the people is to be extended, not restricted. This can be accomplished only by providing each citizen with every opportunity to participate in the management of the government. They must have that.

    We believe that the government which represents the authority of all the people, not just one interest group, but all the people, has an obligation to actively underscore, actively seek to remove those obstacles which would block individual achievement...obstacles emanating from race, sex, economic condition. The government must seek to remove them.

    We are a party of innovation. We do not reject our traditions, but we are willing to adapt to changing circumstances, when change we must. We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future.

    We have a positive vision of the future founded on the belief that the gap between the promise and reality of America can one day be finally closed. We believe that.

    This my friends, is the bedrock of our concept of governing. This is a part of the reason why Americans have turned to the Democratic Party. These are the foundations upon which a national community can be built.

    Let's all understand that these guiding principles cannot be discarded for short-term political gains. They represent what this country is all about. They are indigenous to the American idea. And these are principles which are not negotiable.

    In other times, I could stand here and give this kind of exposition on the beliefs of the Democratic Party and that would be enough. But today that is not enough. People want more. That is not sufficient reason for the majority of the people of this country to vote Democratic. We have made mistakes. In our haste to do all things for all people, we did not foresee the full consequences of our actions. And when the people raised their voices, we didn't hear. But our deafness was only a temporary condition, and not an irreversible condition.

    Even as I stand here and admit that we have made mistakes I still believe that as the people of America sit in judgment on each party, they will recognize that our mistakes were mistakes of the heart. They'll recognize that.

    And now we must look to the future. Let us heed the voice of the people and recognize their common sense. If we do not, we not only blaspheme our political heritage, we ignore the common ties that bind all Americans.

    Many fear the future, Many are distrustful of their leaders, and believe that their voices are never heard. Many seek only to satisfy their private work wants. To satisfy private interests.

    But this is the great danger America faces. That we will cease to be one nation and become instead a collection of interest groups: city against suburb, region against region, individual against individual. Each seeking to satisfy private wants.

    If that happens, who then will speak for America?

    Who then will speak for the common good?

    This is the question which must be answered in 1976.

    Are we to be one people bound together by common spirit sharing in a common endeavor or will we become a divided nation?

    For all of its uncertainty, we cannot flee the future. We must not become the new puritans and reject our society. We must address and master the future together. It can be done if we restore the belief that we share a sense of national community, that we share a common national endeavor. It can be done.

    There is no executive order; there is no law that can require the American people to form a national community. This we must do as individuals and if we do it as individuals, there is no President of the United States who can veto that decision.

    As a first step, We must restore our belief in ourselves. We are a generous people so why can't we be generous with each other? We need to take to heart the words spoken by Thomas Jefferson:

    Let us restore to social intercourse the harmony and that affection without which liberty and even life are but dreary things.
    A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good.
    A government is invigorated when each of us is willing to participate in shaping the future of this nation.

    In this election year we must define the common good and begin again to shape a common good and begin again to shape a common future. Let each person do his or her part. If one citizen is unwilling to participate, all of us are going to suffer. For the American idea, though it is shared by all of us, is realized in each one of us.

    And now, what are those of us who are elected public officials supposed to do? We call ourselves public servants but I'll tell you this: we as public servants must set an example for the rest of the nation. It is hypocritical for the public official to admonish and exhort the people to uphold the common good. More is required of public officials than slogans and handshakes and press releases. More is required. We must hold ourselves strictly accountable. We must provide the people with a vision of the future.

    If we promise as public officials, we must deliver. If we as public officials propose, we must produce. If we say to the American people it is time for you to be sacrificial; sacrifice. If the public official says that, we (public officials) must be the first to give. We must be. And again, if we make mistakes, we must be willing to admit them. We have to do that. What we have to do is strike a balance between the idea , the belief, that government ought to do nothing. Strike a balance.

    Let there be no illusions about the difficulty of forming this kind of a national community. It's tough, difficult, not easy. But a spirit of harmony will survive in America only if each of us remembers that we share a common destiny.

    I have confidence that we can form this kind of national community.

    I have confidence that the Democratic Party can lead the way. I have confidence. We cannot improve on the system of government handed down to us by the founders of the Republic, there is no way to improve upon that. But what we can do is to find new ways to implement that system and realize our destiny.

    Now, I began this speech by commenting to you on the uniqueness of a Barbara Jordan making the keynote address. Well I am going to close my speech by quoting a Republican President and I ask you that as you listen to these words of Abraham Lincoln, relate them to the concept of national community in which every last one of us participates:

    As I would not not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of Democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference is no Democracy.

    Oh, and listen to that:

    Great, great lady.

  •  Thank you for all you have written in here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hotlisted, so many names I have never heard of before. Great learning source for me.

  •  This diary is way off base (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been a gymnastics fan for a long time. Heck, I was invited to one of the Mag 7's weddings (it was my wife they really wanted, but it still gives me some street cred. on this subject). I can assure you Dominique Dawes is/was a huge star. She is definitely a household name among gymnastics fans who are old enough to remember 1996. In fact, I've had retired international level gymnasts look at me funny when I recounted all the things I loved about her floor routine, and then ask me why I know this. Is she a household name in general? No, probably not, but then again not many gymnasts who don't win an olympic all around are. I don't think it is fair to attribute this to her race. Also, you can't cite her decision to be or not be a gymnastics coach as evidence of racism. Lots of these girls at the absolute top are super smart and have lots of options open to them. Some become doctors, some become engineers, some coach, but you can't assume going from top level gymnast to top level coach is a given. I don't know where you got that stereotype.

    Going into the olympics, networks and sponsors always focus on a few athletes they expect to do well. Going off her record as an international elite, and the fact that she is the current world champion, they focused on Jordyn Wieber. This isn't a slight to Gabby Douglas, that's just the way the sponsorship business works. Remember 2008? Everything was focused on Shawn Johnson in the lead up to the games even though she didn't end up winning the all around gold. You didn't site any references for the list of adjectives you used to start your article, but it is not unreasonable for gymnastics pundits to question whether or not a gymnast with only a year of international experience is ready to take the all around at the olympics. These aren't code words for racism, and I think you are reading way too much into gymnastic punditry if you think they are. In fact, who are all these "haters" and "detractors"? The article you link to about her hair links to another article that seems to insinuate that much of the hair criticism was coming from African American women on twitter and facebook. Give me a break. Gabby Douglas is an awesome gymnast and an even better role model. I don't think this diary does her justice.

    •  Respectfully (0+ / 0-)

      I believe you have missed 90% of the point of this diary, which is to talk about deserved recognition that is absent for Black women until folks have no choice but to recognize them.  Not about whether or not within the narrow subset of people who are gymnastics devotees.  Recognition by the media and the society at large.  Indeed, more than 1/2 the diary does not even address gymnastics, or sports.

      We will have to agree to disagree about when racism is present, including in the field of gymnastics.  Frankly, if you're not a victim of it you have no idea what you're talking about, so therefore have no place to insist that racism did not play a role.  When you spend your life looking at it, then you can talk.

      (PS:  that criticism about Gabby's hair was begun by African Americans doesn't make it not racist.  Such a logical error shows your extremely low levels of understanding about what anti-Black racism is.)

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