I wanted to do gymnastics when I was younger, but I was always a talk kid! And I wanted to do ballet as well, but at the heart of it–I wanted to be Dominique Dawes. Google her. I wanted to be that swift, athletic and graceful. I remember the Magnificent Seven. I remember Kerri Strug breaking her foot! And I also remember how proud I was to see a girl that looked like me on the podium holding a Gold Medal at the 1996 Olympic Games! What I thought then was what I think now, “How awesome would it be for more Black girls to do gymnastics?”
Enter the dynamic duo of Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles. Enter all sorts of joy when I watch Gabby become the first Black gymnast to be All-Around Champion. Enter complete joy when I watch Simone Biles do the same–dominating a whole sport that I had only seen one other Black girl do! When I saw Gabby’s mother celebrate her win by saying, “I love you.” I cried. When I saw how Simone didn’t smile even while she was a lighting wrapped in melanin on every apparatus she was on? I cheered. When she told the judges on Dancing With The Stars , ‘”Smiles don’t win championships.” when they tried to check her about needing to smiling more on the show? Oh, yes! I needed every ounce of that smoke. I needed to see Gabby and Simone hug, and not fall pray to the petty that Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell had to confront years later. What trap is that:
The world that feasts and perpetuates anti-Blackness cannot allow two Black women to be successful at the same time. Anti-Blackness will tell one of the women that in order for her to be better, make more money, be considered more beautiful, you have to destroy the girl/woman that looks like you.
Gabby and Simone haven’t done that. And that made my heart so glad. It is a reminded that when Black women are anywhere, Black women everywhere win. This is how we keep winning. Gabby and Simone are the reminder that Black women need to take care of Black women. There are things we go through as Black women that only other Black women understand! To hurt the girl, the woman behind you whom faces the same hurdles, heartaches and setbacks as you. Why make her life harder? What do you gain through such pain you cause someone else?
Oh, I’m still a fan of this sport. I still look forward to Simone stunting on every last person that can’t handle her smoke. I look forward to watching Gabby fly through the air on these uneven bars! I look forward to Simone Biles not being stunted by a sport that doesn’t know how to handle her, her power–while being intimidated by both. Black Girl Magic is sometimes the only thing that keeps us going in times where we don’t know where to go next.
Flip over haters like Gabby. Stunt on em like Simone. That way when y’all come together, when we come together, there is nothing that stand in the way.
[images from etonline.com and The Denver Post]