The black community in America is very diverse. People who live in the North have different traditions and culture than those who live in the South. African immigrants are most recent Black Americans. People from the Caribbean and more have been migrating to this country for a century. Despite racist immigration policies that banned black immigration for several decades Caribbean Americans from Marcus Garvey, James Mc Kay, Shirley Chisholm, Sidney Poitier, Colin Powell, Harry Belefonte, Patrick Ewing, Tim Duncan, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Gil Scott Heron and Eric Holder have made indelible contributions to America. Sanya Richards-Ross is no exception.
Richards-Ross is the first runner, male or female, to reach Olympic finals in both 200 & 400 since since 2000. She also won individual bronze medal for the 400m race in 2008. The following year, Richards-Ross became World Champion, winning a gold medal in the 400 meter race repeated this performance in the 2012 Olympics Games. On making the 2012 Olympic team Sanya tweeted”Making my 3rd Olympic Team is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve never been more focused, determined, excited! It’s everything.”
Richards-Ross was born in Kingston and immigrated to America at the age of 12. In high school, she lettered in Track and Field and Basketball in high school and was a member of the National Honor Society, graduating with a 4.0 G. P.A. Sanya was named National High School Female Athlete of the Year, USA Track and Field’s Youth Athlete of the Year, Women’s Prep Athlete of the Year. She became an American citizen in 2002.
She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business School of Business 2006 with a degree in management information systems and was inducted into The University of Texas Hall of Honor. She began dating Jacksonville Jaguar’s cornerback Aaron Ross in 2003 and the couple got engaged in 2007 They were married on February 26, 2010 and the celebration which was aired on the WE TV show Platinum Weddings.
he spent five years fighting an autoimmune disease called Behcet’s syndrome. Now, Richards-Ross thinks she may have been misdiagnosed. A visit to a new doctor last year resulted in a new diagnosis and a new treatment and despite ongoing symptoms, she states that she not felt better in years.
Ms. Richard-Ross has not forgotten her Jamaican roots. The Sanya Richards Fast Track Program founded in 2007. The primary focus of the program is to enhance literacy and numeracy; develop students’ readiness for standardized tests; promote an active and healthy lifestyle through sports; and enhance social skills with regards to professionalism and employability.
Cuban men have a remarkable boxing tradition with Teófilo Stevenson and Félix Savón as two of only three boxers to win three Olympic gold medals in three consecutive games. Cuban women also have lesser known olympic history in the martial art of Judo, but have not won a gold since Driulis González in the 1996 Atlanta games. Recently, Cuban women have been on the comeback trail, with three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics.
Idalys Ortiz, was the youngest judo medalist, had to be satisfied with a bronze medal at the Beijing games. The judoka had a triumphant comeback, winning the women’s Olympic +78kg category title in the 2012 games. Ortiz, 22 is seeded at number six in international competition, beat Japan’s Mika Sugimoto after she was awarded the win by the referee and two judges as the fight finished scoreless after extra time. After her win the exuberant Ortiz jumped for joy and exclaimed, “it’s a dream! Now that I have achieved this, I feel very happy and I thank everyone who has contributed. My family … everyone who trusted me.”
Women athletes have not had an easy path either. In the early years of the modern Olympics, women were not well represented. Women participated for the first time at the 1900 Paris Games with the inclusion of women’s events in lawn tennis and golf. Women’s athletics and gymnastics debuted at the 1928 Olympics. The implementation of Title 9 in 1972, provided American women with the opportunities and resources to compete in the Olympics on a much wider basis. In 2012, women’s boxing was introduced, resulting in no remaining sports that do not include events for women. Even Muslim women are experiencing a growing inclusion as three Islamic countries (Qatar, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia) sent female athletes to the 2012 games.
Even though African American women shoulder both racial and gender burdens, they have made amazing strides in events that have been seen previously as “white” or “male” events. These accomplishments has not come without criticism. Although Althea Gibson broke the race barrier in professional tennis in 1947, Olympic medalists and tennis superstars. Gabby Douglas has won two gold medals at the 2012 Olympics. She competed in all four events, garnered Venus and Serena Williams face criticism about their bodies, playing styles and femininity 33% of points that led Team USA to the gold and wiped out the Russian competition to win the top spot in the Women’s All Around competition. 16 year old Gabby left her family and friends in Virginia Beach to train in Iowa with Olympic coach Liang Chow. Her mother sold her jewelry and worked overtime to finance Gabby’s training and lodging. Instead of congratulating the young phenomenon on her historic accomplishment, internet troll took to the twitterosphere with comments about her hair!The numerous accomplishments of other black female Olympic pioneers have been marginalized by the media. Swimmer Lia Nealwon the bronze medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay and also helped set a new U.S. record in the event. Neal, who is also a spokes woman for an organization that introduces children of color to swimming and water safety, has received very little press coverage as the second black woman to qualify for the U. S. Olympic Swim Team. She is only 17 years old and a high school senior. I expect Ms. Neal will be harder to ignore in 2016. Paige McPherson 21, defeated 2004 silver medalist, Nia Abdallah, to earn a spot on the 2012 Taekwondo Olympic Team. Paige, who attends Miami Dade College was raised in Sturgis, South Dakota in a multi-ethnic family of adopted children. Paige will begin competing on August 10th.
Many would be suprised to know that black women have a long history in the elite sport of fencing.Nzingha Prescod, an economics major at Columbia University, follows in the footsteps of Nikki Franke, a member of the 1976 and 1980 U.S. Olympic fencing teams by scoring a berth on the 2012 team. The team, the youngest in American Olympic history placed sixth in team competition but coach but Coach Amgad Khazbak said he is looking forward to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games where he believes Team USA could be a contender for the gold. So next time moron spouts nonsense about the athletic superiority of certain racial groups or gender tell them about achievements these barrier breaking ladies!
From the amazing women at the Crunk Feminist Collective. The mainstream media has minimized the contributions of Gabby Douglas to the Olympic gold winning gymnastic team in favor of Jordyn Wieber who failed to qualify for the individual all around competition. Gabby competed in all four events and scored the highest on the beam and bars. Yet the media and the blogsphere are replete with comments doubting she can handle the pressure or commenting on her hair! Gabby is set to compete in the individual all around tomorrow. I wish her the best of luck. GO GABBY!
I purposely titled this essay to highlight Gabby Douglas’ leadership of the USA Women’s Gymnastics Olympic Team, which she led to victory yesterday, by capturing 33% or 1/3 of the total points the team received.
You heard right. This kid, who commentators continue to suggest is “unable to handle the pressure,” was the only member to compete in all four events — vault, bars, beam, and floor.
So though she’s only 1/5 of the team, she did 100% of the events, and captured 1/3 of the points.
Of course she didn’t get 33% of the coverage, or even a quarter of the love her teammates got.
During the medal ceremony the camera panned to and stayed with Jordyn, ofttimes obscuring Gabby’s face. Commentators were exultant about Jordyn’s gold medal. “Jordyn’s gold.” As though there were a medal with her name already engraved on it or something.
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In America, soccer is a considered the domain of the middle class suburbs. Thus the U.S. soccer team is lilly white. The rest of the world is more egalitarian. Here is a run down on the ladies of African descent who will be competing for Olympic gold. Good luck to them all.
Track & Field record holder, Caster Semenya has been prodded & poked, castigated and shamed for the past few years. She has been forced to take female hormones in order compete on a world class level. She deserves this honor for undergoing this Venus Hottentot level of examination with dignity. I for one will be putting national loyalties aside and cheer for her in the 800 meter competition beginning August 6th.
As the black middle class rebounds from the consequences of the Great Recession, it is nice to see that there is still an ongoing challenge to diversify “white sports” continues. Of course there are no real white sports, the racial divide is caused by cost of white dominated athletics. It is expensive to secure training, equipment and rent places to practice. Somehow this goes over the heads of those, like Jimmy Breslin who say that blacks have a genetic advantage at track, football & basketball. Individual genetics and hard work is what make a good athlete, not the color of their skin and ladies like Lia Neal prove that fact.
Ms. Neal, a 17-year-old from Brooklyn, finished fourth in the 100-meter freestyle at the Olympic trials to earn a spot on the women’s 400 freestyle relay. She is one of three swimmers (along with Cullen Jones & Anthony Ervin) with African-American roots on a U.S. Olympic team. Lia is the second female swimmer of African-American descent to make an American Olympic team. The first was Maritza Correia, who was a member of the silver-medal-winning 400-meter freestyle relay team at the 2004 Athens Games. Neal has embraced her status as a role model as a spokesman for the Make a Splash Foundation, organization that teaches water safety to minority children. Racist jerks like Jimmy Breslin can eat their heart out as America cheers Lia on to Olympic victory.
I love the Olympics. As a British born JAmerican, I get to cheer for four countries. Sadly, my father’s home country of Grenada is so small, I have to look up the members in order the catch the few events they compete in. This year the Olympics are in the city of my birth, so I am extra excited. The Olympics are a study in racial & gender privilege as Bryant Gumbel noted in all his lightskinded militancy, “So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.” African American’s are slowly integrating sports that are traditionally seen as white. The percentage of black hockey players is growing and it is only a matter of time before a brother goes for the Olympic gold. U. S. speedskater Shani Davis won a gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur made waves at the last Winter Olympics as the first black couples skater.
The Summer Olympics are more democratic, but sports that cost money are still predominantly white. Gymnastics has long been the space of tiny white women. It is a sport that is defined by femininity but black women are beginning to make their mark. Gabriel Douglas hails from Virginia and moved to in West Des Moines, Iowa to train with former gymnastic champion Liang Chow. Gabby taught herself to do one handed cartwheel at the age of four and began training at the age of six. This young lady has been on a gold medal winning streak in the past few years and at the age of sixteen made this year’s Olympic team. Danielle will be following in the footsteps of Dominque Dawes, the first black person of any nationality or gender to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. She will not only bring home the gold to U. S. and chip away at the stereotypes that are heaped upon black women.