[Originally published August 22, 2016]
Much like everyone near a television, I’ve spent the last 16 days glued (when possible) to my couch, attention turned to the tube on the wall, watching the 31st Olympic Games set in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Since I was a child, the Olympics, and specifically the summer session, has been a stable of modern comraderie through TV. We watch, cheer, gasp, cry, and sit in awe, as the best athletes throughout the ENTIRE WORLD compete for those gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Although the child-like spirit within me still beamed with excitement at the chance to witness the feats this summer, there was a difference this time around. At first, I thought maybe it was my age. I mean, I am a fabulously young 40 now and my scope of excitement has somewhat changed since I was a child watching Mary Lou Retton and in college watching Domonique Dawes! Then, I thought maybe it was my schedule—full grown people are (usually) busy—I’m no different—and by the time I arrive home most days I can barely sit awake for a good hour. But ultimately, I realized, it was none of these things.
Mid-way through the games, I was hit with the unfortunate realization of why the Olympics posed a different feel this time. In this ‘pseudo-post-racial-that’s-not-really-post-racial-but-more-racist-by-day-world’ we live in, I found myself hyper-sensitive to the atmosphere of our Black athletes and how the media portrayed them. Race relations are horrible in the U.S right now. Unfortunately, the Olympics did not protect us.
Gabby Douglas was shunned as being less than patriotic due to choosing not to hold her hand over her heart during the National Anthem while other athletes who did the same, (and who happen to be men and white) were barely noticed. Really? So that’s how we’re doing things in 2016? Not surprised.
Meanwhile, the duh-duh-da-duh award goes to Ryan Locte, whom after being celebrated for his outstanding wins in swimming, shouts to the world about being robbed at gunpoint, then recants his tall tale after video surveillance surfaces to prove he lied and ACTUALLY was the bully in the situation. Again…really? I’m so over it.
The reason I’m over 2016 and the way in which people of color are being treated/talked about/talked to/thought of, you name it, is because this is NOT new. It may be less subtle right now, but trust me when I say it’s nothing new to us…the ones who have endured the treatment for hundreds of years and will continue to do so. You will no longer hear me say I’m tired being treated unfairly. You will no longer hear me say we should be looked upon the same as our white counterparts. Because guess what? It’s not happening. Anytime a 20-year-old young woman who works her butt off to gain medals and notoriety for a country that will turn on her in an instant due to hand placement can be damn near ousted, while a 32-year old GROWN man who fabricates an entire scenario, jumps ship and returns to the U.S. and THEN decides to spill honesty can be referred to as a “kid,” shows proof there is no fairness and we should stop expecting there to be anytime soon.
The Olympics Games are one of those sacred moments of time that should be universal for everyone as they applaud their home country. Guess what? 2016 reminded us that sacred place is not for us. And I’m over it. God bless the athletes.
Until next time,