Here’s the other side of the story: Like a lot of people I only get interested in some sports when its an Olympic year (think luge). For me one of those every four year sports is womens’ gymnastics which usually features tiny teenagers with flat chests, narrow hips and bouncing hair. Of course there was an exception in the 1990s with Dominique Dawes, a beautiful and graceful African-American woman. But here’s the thing, after Dawes, I don’t think I heard anything about another African-American gymnast until Gabby Douglas one of the stars of the 2012 London Games. She was amazing and had the sort of back story that the media just eats up. Fast forward to 2016. I started watching one of the warm-up gymnastic events and was totally blown away to see Simone Biles. I was furious when I found out that she was three time World Champion and like no one in the media had bothered to mention this. Douglas was still competing but was not doing well. So the following weekend July 9 when the Olympic qualifying competition was held, Douglas and Biles were part of the kind of sports drama that movies are made of. Biles of course had a lock on her position on the team; Douglas was going to have to fight, and hope that her experience would give her a leg up over the rest of her competition. It did. So when I decided to check out the sports section of my local paper, was there a picture of Biles and Douglas, no. A picture of the entire team, ah, no. There was a headline at the bottom of page 4 mentioning their names and a scant four column inches that didn’t say much.
Here’s my point: Black grief is marketable. Black success, not so much.