Gold, silver and black at the Olympics
This year’s Summer Olympics has already proved to be one for the ages. In particular, the United States’ black female athletes have showed up and showed out.
Several of these athletes have medaled in sports historically dominated by white athletes.
Lia Neal and Simone Manuel, both Stanford University students, made history by being the first black female duo to make the USA team at the same time. Manuel went on to become the first African-American woman to medal in swimming.
Michelle Carter defied the odds by claiming the gold in shot put, becoming the first American woman to place in the event in more than 50 years.
Simone Biles — what can’t she do?
At the London Olympics in 2012, her counterpart, Gabby Douglas, was the first black gymnast to win an individual gold medal. However, Biles did so in a more impressive fashion.
She took the individual gold and won by an unprecedented 2.1 points, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in more than a half-century, according to The Wall Street Journal.
But the limelight can also carry a stigma.
In a USA Today article, Manuel stated, “Coming into the race I tried to take the weight of the black community off of my shoulders.”
“I want to be an inspiration, but I would like there to be a day when it is not ‘Simone the black swimmer,’” she added. “The title of black swimmer suggests that I am not supposed to break records, but that’s not true, because I train hard and want to win, just like everyone else.”
Often I catch myself falling prey to this notion.
The notion carries over into other aspects of life. In terms of politics, consider the high number of black voters recorded during the 2008 and 2012 elections. I’m sure there were many black voters who voted for Barack Obama solely for the color of his skin, rather than his policies.
We often focus too much on the race factor, rather than the ability and intellect of an individual.
For those wondering why I didn’t want to focus on the accomplishments of Team USA as a whole, this almost mirrors the Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter debate.
I am not saying the accolades of other races don’t matter. I am saying that in the midst of what is currently going on in our country and how black women are sometimes perceived, they deserve to be commended.
I hope when young black girls see these women that look like them excelling at their crafts, they can aspire to be like them, rather than video vixens and Instagram models.
“Black girl magic” deserves to be celebrated.