While we were all busy pushing Gabby Douglas into the chair of a celebrity hair stylist to obtain locks that we could love, Gabby was busy trying to forget the horrible racial comments made by her fellow gymnasts at Excalibur Gymnastics in Virginia Beach, VA where the Olympian once trained.
Douglas appeared on ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter,” where she admitted that she suffered racism and bullying while in pursuit of her dreams of Olympic gold. Douglas revealed, “One of my teammates was like, ‘Could you scrape the bar?’ And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’”
“I was the only African-American at that gym,” Gabby went on during her interview with Oprah. “I definitely felt isolated. Why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black? — those thoughts were going through my mind.”
Now the people at her former Virginia gym are claiming her racist accusations from her interview with Oprah are false. The head of the Excalibur Gymnastics, Gustavo Maure said in an interview with E! News, “Gabby’s remarks are hurtful and without merit.” Maure said that Gabby never brought up an issue of bullying to him. “I wish to defend the children that trained with her. Is Gabrielle a credible person just because she in an Olympic Champion?” he boldly asks.
According to Maure, Gabby was not the only African-American training in his gym. He claims that he’s nurtured more young women of color than just Douglas. So this leaves my mind reeling. Why on earth would Gabby Douglas appear on Oprah and lie about being treated unfairly?
LIKE HelloBeautiful On Facebook To Keep Up With Your Fave Black Celebs!
Shortly after the Olympics wrapped, I remember watching David Letterman and seeing The Fierce Five spread out on his couch. They were giggling with the talk show host, but it was Gabby that had the best seat in the house–right next to Letterman. As the giggles died down, Letterman focused his attention on Douglas. He asked her about something trivial, but it was obvious he was enthralled in her response.
Gabby joked about being able to check “inspire a nation” from her bucket list, and, in those laughter-filled moments immediately following her comment, I noticed a scoff or two and obvious annoyance from at least two of her fellow teammates. Yes, I do believe Gabby is as special as any of her four teammates, but the color of her skin does help her to stand out.
When black people succeed, there’s always the word, “black” or “African-American” attached to their success. Word to Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Oprah and the like. However, this palpably apparent feeling of, ‘Gabby’s getting all of this attention because she’s black,’ is a burden on the teenager. It’s obvious it’s on the minds of her fellow Olympic teammates, but it has to be something Douglas constantly mulls over in her mind. The weight has to be just as heavy as being around your peers and being referred to as a slave, then being publicly challenged about the truth in your claims of what you’ve gone through.
There’s an obvious and maybe even unspoken understanding that the minority aka people of color are perpetual underdogs. There are times when you see people of color rise above so brilliantly, you forget that we’ve historically been placed at the bottom of the totem pole.
To have Gabby’s fellow Excalibur gymnasts tell it, they shared a bond void of racism. Kim Hedeland, a mother of one of Gabby’s former fellow gymnasts claims that, “I do know that my daughter loved her like a sister for seven years. They were often partnered during training and slept in the same room during travel meets. They attended birthday parties and sleepovers together. My daughter says that she was one of her best friends at the gym and was very sad when she left.”
There could be a billion and one pictures to prove that Gabby’s has white friends, but that doesn’t mean that the hurtful and racist comments weren’t made. We were not with Gabby flipping in the gym, so we have no idea what the truth may be, but she’s decided that now was the time for her to speak up and speak out.
Check Gabby’s supporters speaking up on her behalf on Excalibur Gymanastics’ Facebook Page.
More On Gabby Douglas Below:
Listen To This Gabby Douglas-Inspired Playlist!
Check Out This Gallery Of Young & Fab Olympians!