I first fell in love with the Olympics as an 8-year-old girl watching the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. Everything about it fascinated me–the history, the sports…the little medallions inside of my Frosted Cheerios box commemorating the event. And there she was…Dominique Dawes, part of the gold-medal-winning “Magnificent Seven” gymnastics team. She was the first Black gymnast to win an Olympic gold medal–a historical and inspiring feat that no doubt had an influence on another young Black girl, Gabrielle Douglas.
On Thursday, August 2, “Gabby” as she’s known, made history herself. At just 16 years old, she became the first Black female to win the women’s all-around gymnastics competition and she looked fierce! I was so happy for her, I could’ve cried! It’s no secret that Gabby adores and admires Dominique Dawes. And that respect and love, in and of itself, is a beautiful thing.
I’m a firm believer that seeing someone in a role/position/career you want to obtain can be a powerful notion. Just think, if Dominique hadn’t competed, would Gabby have taken up gymnastics? I’m not saying she’s the sole reason, I’m just saying she was an inspiration. Likewise, I think Gabby will be an inspiration to the next generation. They’ll look at her and think, “She did it, I can do it, too!”
And I think that concept reaches beyond athletics and Olympics. For the last two years, I’ve participated in a Career Day for the Black Youth in Action debutantes near my hometown. At the event, there are Black women in a variety of professions: journalist (obviously that’s me), lawyer, doctor, engineer, military personnel, etc. The point is…if young people, especially minorities, see someone who looks like them and has a similar background to them, it can inspire them to achieve great things.
Don’t believe me? Look at Dominique and Gabby; Michael Jackson and Usher, Chris Brown, etc.; Whitney Houston and just about every Black female R&B/pop singer out there. And one day…President Barack Obama and a little Black boy out there somewhere. The possibilities are endless.
At just 16 years old, Gabby Douglas has more grace and poise than a lot of people double her senior…and she’s a gold medalist, to boot. As Drizzy Drake would say, “I’m so, I’m so, I’m so, I’m so proud of you.”