Why I’m Not Watching The Olympic Games
Crystal A. deGregory, PhD

Yeah, Christine, it certainly sounds like you’re tired. Too bad, too, because you’re missing a great Olympics. But since you’re not watching, let me fill you in on something you evidently didn’t witness yourself — Gabby Douglas’ cringe-worthy pouting both on the medal podium and in the stands during her teammate’s all-around competition. As a person who doesn’t have brown skin but who has had plenty to say about the deaths of unarmed black men by police, I was prepared to cut you some slack. But your reference to Gabby and your outrageous mischaracterization of people’s reactions to it blows my mind and your credibility.

IF YOU WANT TO MAKE IT ABOUT RACE, then how about this? What a missed opportunity! It couldn’t have set up any better for Gabby — to pass the torch to another African-American woman in a sport that has been dominated historically be Europeans and Asians. All it would have taken was some visible engagement from Gabby in Simone’s gold medal brilliance, not to mention her 2012 teammate’s hard fought silver after losing out on a medal four years ago due to some random tie-breaker. She didn’t even have to mean it. Gabby was given the opportunity during qualifying to defend her title at the expense of Laurie Hernandez who finished SECOND in the all-around at the trials. Laurie may never have this opportunity again and yet there she was, front and center, rooting on Simone and Aly. Gabby’s net worth is estimated at $3 million dollars, so for crying out loud, get some public relations and avoid this silliness!

And yes, another Simone in another sport could teach Gabby a few things on this topic (another reason it’s too bad you chose this year to stop watching). Simone Manual’s performance in the pool followed up by her unflinching recognition of what it means to be the first African-American woman to win an individual swimming medal (gold, at that!) was the Olympic ideal embodied. She honored the shoulders on which she was standing. Gabby made it impossible for Simone Biles to do anything of the sort. Although I may be white, I am a member of another historically oppressed minority, and I know how relevant it is to honor our heroes and histories.

But the issue here is about a lot more than the Olympics. When you conflate something like Gabby Douglas’ self-absorbed attitude, whether it is grounded in fact or merely perceived, with the very real issues of racism confronting our country today, you do us all a disservice because you make it very easy for people to discount all of it. PLEASE be more vigilant in these matters. If you feel the need to bitch and moan, do so in private with friends, not here in public, especially if you haven’t even been watching the proceedings. By expressing such harsh opinions about current events that, by your own admission, you haven’t even witnessed, you only perpetuate the past and add to the noise that is racial bias and prejudice in American in 2016. Unarmed black men cut down by police gunfire and people’s reactions to Gabby Douglas’ demeanor don’t belong in the same paragraph.

If you aren’t already, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with Wayde van Niekerk story. From his mother to his coach to his historic world record in the 400m last night competing for South Africa, his story resonates and may inspire you to turn the TV back on.

Best, John Fitzgerald Keitel

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.