Italian gymnast, Carlotta Ferlito is currently under fire for making a racial comment in response to Simone Biles (a Black girl on the USA team) winning the all-around world champion. As the first Black gymnast to master this fete, Simone reminds us of another flipping brown girl fave–Gabby Douglas. Douglas was the first Black gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title. So maybe that’s where Carlotta’s statement stemmed from, “I told Vane that next time we’ll have our skin black also so we can win, too.”
Black girls totally rock, so who could blame her for wanting to be one? But our skin is not the only reason we’re natural born winners. Carlotta’s statement is exposing what many athletes who see Black people at the top of their field must be feeling. When other tennis players look at Serena Williams, I’m sure they think the same thing. When Tiger Woods be stuntin’ on them other golfers, I’m sure they all feel they should paint their skin black too. Nevermind the hours, months and years filled with practice to make perfection. Nevermind the blood, sweat and tears that brought them various victories. It’s clearly their darker skin that gives them athletic advantage, according to Carlotta.
The statement has been called racist all over the media, however, it’s mostly just ignorant, but I guess that’s what racism is at the core. “I found it very insulting,” Biles’ father, Ron, told USA Today Sports. “The racial comment was really out of line.” Simone’s mom took a different stance, choosing to be silent on the comments because she’d rather focus on her daughter’s victory.
Simone’s dad said, “Normally it’s not in her favor being black, at least not in the world that I live in.” But he said Simone is moving on and is not fazed by it. He’s right. It’s usually a detriment to have more melanin in your skin, so Carlotta’s statement is just malformed. She and her Italian teammate, Vanessa Ferrari finished fourth and fifth in the balance beam. This is just an observation, but I don’t think a darker skin tone would have helped them place any higher. Just sayin’.
Carlotta has since apologized via social media, saying, ““I want to apologize with the Americans girls. I didn’t want to sound rude or racist. I love Simone and I’m a huge fan of USA gymnastics. I’ve made a mistake, I’m not perfect…I didn’t think about what I was saying. I’m just a human. I’m so so sorry.”
The president of USA Gymnastics, Steve Penny wasn’t satisfied with Carlotta’s apology. He released a statement:
“USA Gymnastics is disappointed by the recent comments made by Carlotta Ferlito and apparently by the Italian Gymnastics Federation. Gymnastics is a global and inclusive sport with talented athletes, and there is no place for racial insensitivity. We are contacting the Italian federation for clarification on its comments.”
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