Like millions of people around the world, I love when the Olympics come around every four years. It’s not just seeing amazing athletes perform from different countries but also hearing the countless testimonies of personal struggles and triumphs that led these athletes to the world’s stage. By now, many already know the successful story of the record breaking Tennis mega-stars, Venus and Serena Williams. We can now add to the list of record setting and record breaking Gold Medalist gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles.
A part of the Williams sisters’ testimony is the severe racism and attacks on their womaness they have faced from White people around the world. Even when they have competed on US soil, white fans would often cheer for their white non-US opponents. In the 2016 Olympic Rio games the Gold medalists Williams sisters were eliminated in their opening match. I personally missed that match and viewed a brief highlight rill online.
I was proud of the two ladies. Venus was under the weather and Serena had earlier won her singles match to advance to the next round. Neither was in their best condition. Nonetheless the games must go on. Like professionals the sisters congratulated their competitors after their loss and gracefully bid adieu. I then made the dumb mistake of reading the comments under the video. Here are a few samples and I have to admit, I’d hadn’t heard “porch monkey” in a long time.
Yes, a vast number of white people are racist and are happy to display their true selves over the internet but it still kinda caught me off guard because I was caught up in Olympic hype.
Mere hours later, watching the talented (best of the best) young ladies from around the world competing in the qualifying round of women’s gymnastics, I noticed how Gabby Douglas has transformed and grown into a young woman. Her celebrity arrived back in 2012 when she won the gold medal in London. New to the Olympic arena is now gold medalist and record setting 3 time world champion Simone Biles. I was really proud of the vets and new comers to Team USA (The Final Five) with their grace, showmanship and performance.
Like the Williams sisters, Biles also has faced racism. An example would be back in 2013 when an Italian gymnast said the following after Biles world championship victory, “next time we should also paint our skin black, so then we could win too”. Of course a social media apology was issued by the Italian gymnast.
This was followed up with an explanation and “apology” from David Ciaralli, an official with the Italian gymnast federation who stated “why are there no black swimmers? Because their physical features don’t suit the sport. Black people may not have some of the necessities to be, let’s say, a field manager or a general manager and that they aren’t good swimmers because they ‘don’t have the buoyancy.”
What I was put off to see this week (in 2016) were the snide and racist beauty standard comments that didn’t come from racist Whites, but from Black women regarding Gabby Douglas’ hair on message boards and social media. Here are some examples.
Keep in mind this criticism from Black women also happened back in 2012. These pro-feminist, pro-black, anti-racism, we’re “Black Queens” because Black Girls are Magic, collective that resides within elements of Black Twitter and social media; were shaming and insulting a Black female US Gold Medalist who by all accounts is a role model to women around the world.
This young woman is an inspiration and pinnacle of will power and determination…and many Black women (and some gay and straight Black men) have the nerve to focus on “nappy edges”? Are you kidding me?
Would they have preferred Gabby’s edges to be non-existent at the Olympics due to years of weaves, braids and weave/wig glues that damage the natural hairline and scalp?
That’s right because Black women having unnatural balding or “snatched” hairlines looks fantastic. We’re now learning that tens of thousands of Black women globally are suffering irreversible scalp damage due to attempting to adopt and emulate European standards of beauty.
I know you may ask why is Octavius Williams who is co-founder of a masculine leaning Black gay website writing about Black women. Because I know first-hand how it feels to have communities that you assume would embrace you, shun and marginalize you. Not only that, I love pointing out harmful double standards and hypocrisies that are perpetuated by members of certain segments, including but not limited to Feminist Gays and Women.
If my escape from White racism and discrimination is to run to the arms of the Black community, only to be rejected due to my sexuality; then in turn run to the arms of the Black gay community, only to be marginalized, this is isolating and heart breaking.
I wrote this because of it seriousness and to point out a clear example of how white supremacy and racism has a direct impact on Black self-hate. Because elements in White society view Black women as less beautiful, man-like or even ape-animal like; not only do many Black women try to adopt White standards of beauty, they also will attack other Black people for not adopting what they deem are the correct standards.
I don’t have to be a feminist (I will never be) to call out horrible attacks on women…even if they’re carried out by other women. The questions that came about after examining this issue was:
Which is worse; the expected backlash from racist elements in our world or the shame, ridicule and rejection received from the communities you think you belong to and should be embracing you?
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