On Tuesday, 16-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas led our women’s gymnastics team to a gold medal, the USA’s first since 1996. The bouncing, bubbly superstar will also be competing for the gold again today, one of just two Americans chosen after she outperformed media darling Jordyn Wieber, whom everyone expected to land a top spot.About a week and a half ago, I experienced some of this toxicity for myself, first hand. I was standing in line at Old Navy along with K, who was holding Z. We were paying for a pair of little pink sneakers for Z when I overheard two Black women behind us saying, "Look at that girl. Why wouldn't she put a pink bow in the back of her hair or something? It just isn't right." The other woman replied, "Well, her hair IS so short back there a bow wouldn't even stay on... Uh huh...".
But instead of collectively celebrating her accomplishments on the Olympic stage —‘cause I know like you know we always root for the Black girl to upstage the competition — Gabby has been dogged with cruel criticism. Too many folk aren’t discussing her awe-inspiring leaps, bounds and accomplishments. Instead, it’s her hair that has become the topic du jour of some less-than-pleasant viewers.
No, it’s not runway-ready. But Gabby isn’t strutting a catwalk, so why does it need to be? She’s an athlete, competing on the world’s largest stage for the world’s greatest accolades. Did you catch that? She’s not just a champion of her block, or her borough, or her county or state. She’s one of the best in the world, as in all of Earth and womankind. At 16. Her hair may not be flawless, but her gravity-defying performances have been doggone close.
My eyes darted back and forth, scanning the line. We were directly in front of them. There were no other babies or even little girls in line. I felt myself slowly heating up internally. I glanced back at them, picking at those dollar bin nik-naks that line the checkout area. They both had to be in their late forties or even fifties. Both were wearing wigs.
After our transaction was finished and we were walking away, I turned and looked at K and said steaming, "I KNOW they weren't talk about MY BABY!" K, being the cool, level headed fellow that he is, brushed it off. He just looked at me, shook his head, and holding her, said, "She's beautiful."
By the way, Zoe was actually wearing a blue and white headband at the time. You know, to go with her blue and white dress. *Eyeroll*
Call Mr. Blackwell, Z's hair was a fashion faux pas!
I'm directing this question to the noxious trolls online and in real life: What the "h-e-double-hockey-sticks" is wrong with you? It's ridiculous to puke your venom on complete strangers. It's vile and despicable to do so on children and babies. The only real point you're making is that you're a jerk.
One of the saddest parts of all these regular exercises in fifteen minutes of hate is that it actually reflects insecurity and self-hatred. For years, I've heard Black folks lambast the "European mentality" that "white makes right". Well, Black folks, I present WE ARE our own biggest enemies. When I made the choice to go natural, it wasn't White people, or Asians or Latinos knocking me. Nope, it was all Black folks (and specifically, American Blacks). It was a Black man who said I now have "N***** naps" instead of my once "silky, smooth hair". It was Black folks who petted my hair like I were a poodle.
Do you want other races to respect us? Start respecting and loving us. Stop throwing shade at the amazingly talented Gabby. Don't tear apart the offspring of two of the world's most successful Black entertainers.
And bless K's peaceful heart, no one best say anything about my daughter again. God ain't done with me, yet.