Biles is bionic? Simone can swim? Gabbys unpatriotic?: the Olympics and White Supremacy

Olympians Douglass, Manuel and Biles
“What did I do to disrespect people? What have I done to disrespect the USA?’ asked Gabby Douglass. Gabby didn’t do anything! There is a saying that sports don’t necessarily develop character, but rather reveal it. In the same vein the Olympics reveal that White Supremacy and racial myths are the lens through which unfortunately too many unconsciously view Black athletes.
As somebody on twitter put it, “all you need to know about America is that even if a black girl like Gabrielle Douglas wins gold medals she’ll be antagonized over nothing.” Douglass and all of the Black Olympic athletes will be viewed through unofficial mantra’s that suggest Black people should be scrutinized, and viewed with suspicion.
Why are people watching the Black athletes so closely? Why weren’t they observing Micheal Phelps platform behavior which was a bit dismissive of what should be a sober and solemn moment. But it was given a pass? So why were people Black and white sweating Gabby about possibly being unpatriotic?
Because some folks know intrinsically, subconsciously that Black people in this country have been given a rotten deal.
They know that Black people have been shot down in the street like dogs more frequently than white folks by the police with little chance of the killers being held accountable. They are aware that the prison’s are disproportionately filled with Black folks because of bias in law enforcement and a biased justice system. They know Black unemployment is almost always twice White unemployment, primarily because of bias in hiring and bias in opportunity. They know that Black wealth trails white wealth, because of historic and current discriminatory economic practices that have put Blacks so far behind that a recent study said it would take Black folks over 200 years to catch up.
Sure a Black middle class has arose despite every effort on the part of this social, political, economic system to keep Black’s second class in every aspect of the word.
But most probably don’t know that despite all of the historic abuse and discrimination, Blacks living in the US have been so patriotic that they have signed up to fight for the US even as the government sometimes rejected their help as was the case in the Civil War.And in the case of the World Wars Black troops were placed in segregated units and sometimes mistreated even while they were willing to die for the country.
Even broadcasters and sportswriters descriptions of Simone Biles’ performance almost always verges on her being labeled as super human, or other than human.
Check out these descriptions of Simone’s performance:
“And then when she lands, her body absorbs all the force she built up in the jump — and, according to [physicists], it seems like too much force for a human to handle. Yup, Biles is defying physics,” from
“Afterward, Biles reminded reporters that, yes, she really is human. Really, she is.” From the NYTimes.
Yes she really is human and she should be described as just that a really talented and gifted human being!
Simone Manuel understood what she accomplished. But it should not have been a big deal! Black people can swim, despite some Blacks even buying into the myths about lack of buoyancy! Black folks don’t swim for a variety of reasons. Studies have found that some Black parents can’t swim and have such a great fear that their children will drown that they don’t prioritize it.
Jeff Wiltse in his book “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America,” provides a comprehensive explanation of why Blacks have not really championed swimming. According to the author, “the history of discrimination… has contributed to the drowning and swimming rates.”
In the South racial laws and the need for the Capitalists to keep the races separated (in order to better exploit both) prohibited Blacks and whites from co-mingling, even in swimming pools and most public pools were built in the White community. And the idea of barely clothed White women in close proximity of half clothed Black men sent “dyed in the wool” racists into near hysterics.
In the North discriminatory rules were put in place as well. When cities did begin to build pools in the inner core they were little more than wading pools in which real swimming couldn’t occur.
The legacy and lens of White Supremacy gets in the way of everything, even simple enjoyment of a group of amazing and wonderful athletes. Surely a better world has to be possible!
justice then peace

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s