Monday, August 27, 2012
Gymnasts from Excalibur are saying that Gabby is lying based on her comments about race on Oprah's Next Chapter. While many will always wish to dismiss racism, I believe that Oprah and Gabby simply made TV out of an issue that is much deeper. Having known gymnasts and parents from the gym, there has always been a sense that girls know where they rank at that gym based on the attention afforded to them (and at many other gyms.) Gymnasts get a sense of who is gymnast #1, #2, #3, #4. When Gabby was coming up through the ranks, Marcia Newby, Randy Stageberg and Brittany Ranzy were originally the stars of the gym., but it was clear to anyone that Gabby had immense talent. Race is everywhere in gymnastics. Most black gymnasts are encouraged to be 'power gymnasts' by coaches who encourage them to throw every trick in the book while they might encourage a white gymnast to be more of a 'skill' gymnast or dancer. It simply happens. In fact, Gabby was initially pointed out as one of the first black gymnasts with 'exceptional toe point.' Things simply are as they are, and it is likely that the coaches viewed Gabby as a talent and her 'isolation' had more to do with her being the true talent of than gym, which her mom subtly hinted it, but it was Oprah and when Oprah wants you to give an answer...she will give it out of you and have you go along with what Omniscient O says is the real story. While Oprah is eager to bring up Gabby being a black gymnast in a predominately white sport (which is true, but has been changing for some time...and certainly not on the level of diving or figure skating), it should be known that there have been a number of successful black gymnasts from Excalibur. Did Gabby likely receive racist remarks along the way? Absolutely. But Oprah ignores the fact that in addition to being a black girl, Gabby was always the quick, light, effervescent gymnast with 'the gift.' After a Junior National Championships, I said the only thing Gabby needed to do to make the Olympics was switch gyms immediately to someone who could teach bars. If I could spot it, every competitive little gymnast and their parents could spot it and view her as a threat or someone to envy. I wouldn't be quick to label Gabby a liar, but I do think that things are different now that she has been branded by Oprah as someone who 'represents something more than herself to a lot of people.' Like Shawn Johnson, her interviews will likely soon be 'based on a true story.'