What About Gabby Douglas’ Hair?


Image from frugivoremag.com

So I’m not going to pretend even for a second that I’ve been intently watching the Olympics or holding onto my chair dying to find out who wins what. But I do know that Gabby Douglas is a 16-year-old Olympic Champion and the first African-American to win all-around gymnastic titles. What brought me to writing this article is the fact that she just put every teenager in the world to shame and brought pride to the entire African-American race and is now the subject of insults about her hair choice and not praise. (This really goes to show how haters will find anything to criticize when someone is successful.)

Yahoo was on top of things when they pointed out that most of the negativity she’s been receiving about her hair has been from other African-Americans. While this does not at all surprise me because it’s all too often that African-Americans in the spotlight find themselves being critiqued by their own, rather than explaining all the things that are stupid about anyone suggesting that Gabby Douglas’ hair should’ve been her main concern, or pointing out how important hair is to Black women, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to ask an even bigger question. Why is it that we in the Black community are so quick to attack our own stars first?

Let’s face it, yes we may be dealt a crueller hand than other races and are certainly as a majority, underprivileged, but why do we attack those of us who do try to beat the hand we’re dealt. Is it jealousy?

We petition for all of our Black reality stars to lose their shows because we believe we’re being portrayed negatively, while ignoring the far greater majority of television shows where White people are shown behaving ridiculously. However, you don’t see White people petitioning to take money from other White celebrities by having their shows cancelled, because they don’t believe in or perpetuate the idea that one White person speaks for the entire race. That belief is unique to us. Why do we let our insecurities as a race do this to us? I know we fear being judged based on our race, but this fear creates realities.

When people watch Love and Hip Hop Atlanta and see Stevie J act like a fool, their reaction is that Stevie J is acting like a fool. It’s when our community takes to Twitter to complain about how he’s portraying all Black men poorly that we lose our identity as individual people. It’s then that people get the idea in their head that we believe we should all be viewed based on one person’s actions. When Snooki makes a fool of herself on Jersey Shore, white people criticize Jersey Shore itself. They don’t move to have the show removed because Snooki’s affecting the way the entire race is viewed.We hate to be stereotyped, yet we stereotype ourselves by assuming every other race looks at one Black person and sees us all. It all starts with us. We do have some power over the way we are viewed. We allow ourselves to play too big of a role in our own demise.

As a community, we took away a moment to celebrate Gabby Douglas, by drawing attention to her hair, something no one but us would’ve noticed or cared about. For what? To prove that Black women are known for having their hair fixed nicely so we as a race disapprove? Those aren’t the things that matter. There’s nothing impressive about showing that in the moment of triumph, all we could see was her hair. We drive negativity towards each other in so many ways and I hope we begin to acknowledge this problem so we can begin to correct it.

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Comments

  1. very well written and a super intellectual viewpoint. the writer is pretty sharp.

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