I purposely titled this essay to highlight Gabby Douglas’ leadership of the USA Women’s Gymnastics Olympic Team, which she led to victory yesterday, by capturing 33% or 1/3 of the total points the team received.
You heard right. This kid, who commentators continue to suggest is “unable to handle the pressure,” was the only member to compete in all four events — vault, bars, beam, and floor.
So though she’s only 1/5 of the team, she did 100% of the events, and captured 1/3 of the points.
Of course she didn’t get 33% of the coverage, or even a quarter of the love her teammates got.
During the medal ceremony the camera panned to and stayed with Jordyn, ofttimes obscuring Gabby’s face. Commentators were exultant about Jordyn’s gold medal. “Jordyn’s gold.” As though there were a medal with her name already engraved on it or something.
The Olympics trades in Gold Medals, not Gold Stars! Put another way, there are no “A’s for effort.”
I want to be clear. I have nothing but love for Jordyn. She’s the reigning world champ. She’s mega talented, and she showed up for Team USA in a major way yesterday. I do not want to diminish her accomplishments in any way in this post.
But I take serious issue with the media’s coverage of her accomplishments and the sense of white entitlement that permeates that coverage. The coverage magnifies Jordyn’s victories, while minimizing Gabby’s. And it isn’t right. Not to mention that it is classic passive aggressive white racism. (Yeah, I said it.) The kind that injures not by heaping insults but by failing to grant recognition, when it has power to do so….