Gymnast Gabby Douglas Details Racism at Childhood Gym
On an appearance with Oprah Winfrey, Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas spoke about her struggles as a young African-American gymnast in a very white sport:
She recalled a specific example of racism. “One of my teammates was like, ‘Could you scrape the bar?’” she remembered. “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. “I definitely felt isolated. Why am I deserving this? Is it because I’m black? — those thoughts were going through my mind.”
Gabby appeared on Oprah’s show Sunday with her mother, Natalie Hawkins, who recalled how her daughter told her about the cruel treatment on several occasions.
Eventually Gabby moved gyms and her performance obviously did not suffer--but the outsize criticism she has at times received, including criticism of her hair, still irks her, she told Winfrey (and rightly so!).