The story of the sad black child that grows up fatherless is a familiar one–to me at least. Growing up without a father figure was a life that I lived and didn’t realize was a broken one until I noticed my friends in middle school getting excited about Father-Daughter dance, what dress they’d pick, the shoes they’d dance in and the corsage their dad would place upon their wrists.
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I knew that I wasn’t going because my dad wasn’t there. He was never there. His absence became my norm. I’ve dealt with the void as I got older by dating all the wrong men and holding a grudge on them all for the sake of my father’s ability to disappear into thin air. Gabrielle has not lived through this same sob story. She’s not a tragic fatherless child!
To let Daily Mail UK tell it, Douglas is that same little lonely girl–fatherless and lost. It’s a common theme in a lot of “inspirational” movies. The little black kid from the ghetto who is exceptionally talented in something overcomes the obstacles of being poor and fatherless. That’s not 100 true. Gabby and her father have a relationship.
Gabby’s father, Staff Sgt Timothy Douglas of the Air National Guard, yes, THE National Guard is not a dead beat dad. Word to Bow Wow. Sgt Douglas is serving in the 203rd Red Horse civil engineering squadron in Afghanistan. He loves his little flying firecracker and was only not in attendance during her major win because he was busy serving our country! Gabby’s father was first deployed when she was nine and as a result, Natalie Hawkins (Gabby’s mother) identified as a single mother because the parenting responsibilities were left solely on her.
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The article even went as far as reporting on Hawkins’ financial difficulties when attempting to pay for Gabby’s gymnastic classes. The quoted Hawkins saying, “Gymnastics is an expensive sport.” Hawkins applied for military scholarships (like any military family would) to help fund Gabby’s classes. With a husband in the military, this is a normal thing. So why should this be a sensational piece of information to include in a story about Gabby’s life?
After making it a point to mention that Douglas and Hawkins are in the process of divorcing (they mentioned it twice, further attempting to solidify their tragic black girl claim), Daily Mail UK made this statement, “Their relationship has been strained by his prolonged deployments and almost cost Gabby her gold.” Gabby’s father’s absence only put strain on her because she was worried about his safety while away at war, not because he chose not to be in her life.
Sgt Douglas would watch YouTube videos of his daughter’s routines on the dial-up internet available in Kandahar. That’s what I call support. Even though he couldn’t be there, his support of Gabby was. He even managed to make it to the Olympic trials in June, waving an American flag in the air for Gabby. In reaction to seeing Gabby performing, Douglas gushed:
‘There’s an exuberance. There’s a feeling that you can’t describe. I just missed her so much. Sometimes, when she had a rough time, I’d tell her to hang in there. You know what it takes to be a winner, you know what your goals are. You just keep on your goals. Some things that I tell her I have to remind myself. Those are all things we can all abide by.”
Gabby certainly kept her goals in sight, despite all the obstacles she’s faced to get to where she is now–a gold medal winning, history making Olympic and Black history. She’s not a girl that grew up without privileges, a father or support. She’s a young black girl with dreams and the proper determination to get there. Nothing tragic about that at all. Shout out to Fox for reporting this story in the right way!
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