Little Known Black History Fact: Gabby Douglas

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  • U.S. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas became the first African-American to win the all-around Olympic gold and the first American athlete to win both the team gold in gymnastics and the all-around gold medal. The 16 year-old left her home to live with a host family in Des Moines, Iowa two years ago to train for London. She has been nicknamed “The Flying Squirrel” by friends for her amazing aerodynamics. After winning in London, she’s been re-nicknamed “Golden Gabby” alongside her team members who have now been referenced as “The Fierce Five.”

    Douglas’ mother, Natalie Hawkins, a single mother of four, lived on an estimated $2,500 per month through disability. It was reported that she recently filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Hawkins held a little over $163,000 in assets with $80,000 in debt. She has taken ownership of her financial struggle in the press, explaining that she was thankful for an option to keep her home. Her daughter, now a world champion, has received various endorsements worth $2-4 million dollars each.

    After her big win, Douglas wasn’t just given praise for her efforts. Some African-American viewers openly criticized her on twitter and message boards for her choice of hairstyle. Her media response was, "… What's wrong with my hair? …Are you kidding me? I just made history. And you're focusing on my hair? I just want to say, we're all beautiful inside out. I don't think people should be worried about that. Nothing is going to change."

    Today, Douglas will be challenged on the uneven bars and balance beam competition. She and her trainer Liang Chow began intense training after Gabby’s big win in the all-around. Gabby hopes to win more gold in the upcoming competitions.
     

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    10 thoughts on “Little Known Black History Fact: Gabby Douglas

    1. I bet most of the young girls that commented about that young sister’s hair, have blue contacts, weaves and are using chemicals to burn their hair straight . Some have even lost their mind with the blonde look. And all this to get attention from her Blackman that makes her feel like she has to be other then self to get his attention. Sad! But (Al Sharpton) is doing his thing.

    2. What an inspiration this little girl is to me. I can hardly believe that this conversation about her “hair” is lasting this long. I cannot imagine the disappointment over her haters, from all of those from years and centuries past, who sacrificed and even gave their lives so that someday, a little Gabby Douglas’ history making performance could be common place in this country. This little girl and her family have accomplished so much, and to criticize this amazing little girl about something so trivial shows how sick-minded people are nowadays. I am sure these nasty comments about Gabby’s beautiful hair have got to hurt.

      Dr. Martin Luther King once said that unearned suffering is redemptive. It truly is, but I bet that Gabby and her family already know that. Gabby: use whatever pain and disappointment you receive to propel you on to even higher heights. I haven’t been inside a gym in 40+ years …. Never had an interest in sports. But after reading your story and seeing your amazing performance, I was so inspired, just life-wise. Keep up the good work and IGNORE the haters.

    3. It continues to amaze me how we as black folk are hell bent on proving to the world how disgustingly ignorant and shallow we can be!!!!!!!! As a former gymnast the absolute last thing you worry about is your hair, you pull it back and keep it moving all the while keeping your eye on the prize. CONGRATULATIONS GABBY AND CONTINUE TO LOVE THE LORD AND YOU!!!!

    4. Educating the People in the Black Community who has something negative to say about Gabby Douglas’s hair.

      My daughter is black and trained at an Olympic caliber gym for 12 years and the handful of good black gymnasts in the sport of gymnastics don’t get the time of the day at the National and World level. And when we do get one….my community talks about her HAIR!!!!!!!!!!! REAALLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYY!!!!!!

      To give you an idea what Gabby’s schedule training schedule was like:
      • Get up to be at the gym at 6:00 am for 3 hours of practice (some gyms 4 hours)
      • Go home and come back at 2:30 or 3:00 pm to practice for 4 more hours)
      Every day for at least the past 5 years and she has to be home schooled at this level of practice

      If you train at this level for 5 years….your body is pretty much beat….You most like would have had at least 2 x-rays a year and 2 MRI’s a year. You would have had a broken foot, toe, finger, elbow or something… And is still expected to be in the gym working out with the cast on….You would literally have to in a full body cast for you not to show up at the gym.
      If you see some gymnast doing stuff on the beam with one hand or no hands, they most likely learned that skill for being in cast on the opposite hand or foot.
      Being a gymnast training at that level means your visit to the orthopedics is hoping your injury is not a career ending injury or an injury that requires more than 6-8 weeks to heal…Actually getting a 6-8 weeks diagnosis for a gymnast means you are limited to full work out for at least 3-4 weeks and back in the orthopedics office getting another x-ray to check on the progress in 4 weeks.
      Training at this level means…… if you have an injury that will require surgery in order for it to possible get better…it is put off until your season is over…a gymnast at this level will train with the pain until the end of the season.
      So for Gabby to be able to overcome this is amazing in itself but for her to overcome the blood sweat and tears at the gym and be PICKED to represent the USA is why I’m educating the black community of what it means by being black in the sport of gymnastics.
      Marta and Bela Karolyi have VERY VERY VERY strict rules and hand picks who they invite to their camp to train for the USA championships, Worlds and the Olympics…
      The gymnast has to look a certain way first, then have the skills second and lastly, have the mental makeup…..in that order…No Exceptions. And for a black gymnast it also means you have to have exceptional skills that can’t be done by a non-black gymnast on at least two of your events.
      So you could be the most talented black gymnast in the USA but if you don’t have the look….you will not get invited to the camp….and if you have the look and skills and invited…you have to be more consistent than any non black gymnast in the camp….for example ….for Gabby to have made it that far…she had to be the most consistent gymnast in the camp. Jordyn Wieber could have 6 bad workouts but Gabby would only be allowed to have 2 before she was sent home from camp…..They have even picked injured gymnast over healthy gymnasts just because they had ‘”THE LOOK”

      You ask what is ‘”THE LOOK”…but Bela is really bluntly telling you in this quote about Gabby from the NBC coverage:

      “She very much reminded me of one of the other great athletes of my coaching career,” Bela Karolyi, the legendary coach, said after.
      Who?
      “Nadia,” Karolyi said, smiling at the memory of Nadia Comaneci, who won all-around gold at the 1976 Games with a series of perfect 10s.
      The first African American all-around champion reminds him of that lithe, 14-year-old Romanian?
      “Same little skinny thing,” Karoyli said
      They basically have to look like the Romanias and Russisan….Very slim with long lines. Nastia Liukin and Kayla Ross is their ideal look.
      I have seen a lot of gymnast…not just black gymnast who have the skills to help the USA win but they are not even looked at because they don’t have “THE LOOK”…If you go back and look at Shawn Johnson’s look…she was slightly on the fence for having “the look” but because she was Caucasian and had the skills..she was given a chance …If a black gymnast was at the camp with the same frame as Shawn Johnson and had a better vault or floor routine then her…Bela would have stilled chosen Shawn Johnson over the black gymnast and would have hoped to offset the points on another event

      So for Gabby to be representing the USA and winning a gold medal is what we should be talking about instead of her hair….

      They have rules in gymnastics and your hair has to be basically pulled back in a ponytail with no hair or strands of hair hanging out…you can’t have nail polish on your fingers or toes and the only earrings allowed is stud earring….anything that deviates from this can cause you some type of deduction…So for Gabby to have the once in a lifetime opportunity and for her parents to realize the rare opportunity she had and made sure her appearance would not cause any doubts of a possible deduction should be commended.

      How did Gabby get picked????
      She was picked because her God given skills and talent commanded the attention from the Bela camp…It was no way they could refuse her from the team because she had everything they needed to win GOLD….

      She showed up on the scene (late by some gymnast journey…) and out beat everyone Bela had on their watch list for the Olympics. She was invited to the camp and was more consistent than the other gymnast or just as consistent as her counterparts…
      So Bela said…let’s have her come to the USA Olympic trials to see how she does on the International level….Gabby was not on the team but outscored everyone on the team…
      When you go to a competition you may have 10 gymnasts on your team but only 4 of the gymnast can be picked to represent your team score…
      If you go back and look at the footage…. Jordyn Wieber was Bela’s golden child for the Olympics….she was in all of the Olympic promo commericals, magazines and websites as the one to represent the USA…But Gabby skills and talent killed that dream….One of my Caucasian friends called me to tell me how pissed she was for the media not giving Gabby her due and was glad that she won…She proceeded to run down Gabby’s stats which basically said that because Gabby fell on beam at Worlds and the Russia girl fell on floor was the only reason why Jordyn Wieber won Worlds. Gabby only lost by a tenth of a point which means with her fall on beam she still almost outscored Jordyn Wieber who had no falls..So if Gabby was to hit every routine with no falls she was the better gymnast..
      Dominique Dawes was so emotional over Gabby’s win because she knows what she had to overcome to get where she was…Oh and they try to mentally break you down as well…
      And I’m ending this on this note because my comments are becoming too long but it is very very very seldom that an Olympic caliber gymnast parents can afford the cost and expense of their daughter’s journey..We did a fundraiser for the last Olympian from our gym because it was no way the family could travel to see their daughter fulfill her dream at a moment’s notice…You can’t plan for these trips because it is based on how your daughter place at a given meet.

      Most good gymnast stay in the sport because the end result is having a full ride scholarship to college….Once you get to the level of possible going to Worlds and/or the Olympics the travel cost increases for the family and because of the NCAA rules, the gymnast are not allowed to have sponsors so the gymnast has to make the decision of going Pro and forgo the college scholarship option which is what the FAB FIVE did because they will make enough money to pay for college on their own.
      So…..If Gabby was a little bit thicker or had a different body shape….as talented as she is…the world would not have known about her..and someone in the black community had the nerve to say “Why didn’t she get her hair done”
      Just to let you guys know….GABBY’s hair was screaming…..watch out, this black chick is getting ready to get a GOLD medal and I’m not giving you judges any reason to give me unnecessary deductions.
      My favorite saying is……if gymnastics was easy…it would be called football

    5. I think Gabby is beautiful…hair and all. As a matter of fact, I think she looks like a minature Michelle Obama.

    6. While those folks are at the beauty shop getting gold highlights, Gabby is at the Olympics getting gold medals! Nuff said!

    7. I HAVE ALREADY TOLD MY FRIENDS TO LEAVE GABBY ALONE SHE DOESN’T HAVE TIME TO BE WORRIED ABOUT HER HAIR WHICH LOOK JUST FINE TO ME IT NOT LIKE SHE WAS GOING PARTYING OR SOMETHING LAY OFF THE GIRL SHE JUST CREATED HISTORY GET YOU SOME BUSINESS PEACE.

    8. It’s a shame that we choose to criticize instead of encourage our young people. This beautiful black child made history and yet some can still find something negative to comment about. Shame on you………Gabby you made us all proud. God Bless You.

    9. The FOOLS commenting on Gabby’s hair obviously don’t know A THING about hitting the gym and working up sweats. If they did then they’d know how we pull our hair back and keep it moving. Gabby Makes Me PROUD!!! HAIR AND ALL.

      RKearns (RJaswal) Hackensack, NJ

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