Simone Biles is the star of the women’s gymnastics 2016 Rio Olympics. Her power, precision and phenomenal execution won her gold medals in every event and helped team USA secure the women’s team all-around first place title. This young woman made history. She is now the first African-American to be world all-around champion and the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles and she is also the most decorated American female gymnast in World Championships history, with a total of fourteen medals, ten of them gold.
With every flip, tumble and pass, my eyes remained glued to Biles during the Olympics. Not only was I witnessing history in the making, but it was being made by a Black woman. A Black woman whose life ain’t been no crystal stairs. This year, women of color, and particularly Black women, made powerful statements at the Olympics:
We endure. We persevere. We overcome. And we win.
Biles’s mother was not able to care for her four children because she struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and no, no father stepped up to the plate. Simone Biles’s maternal grandparents eventually adopted Simone and her younger sister and the two older siblings were adopted by the Biles grandfather’s sister. By the time Simone was barely a toddler, she had already experienced the agony of being torn between homes, of not having a mother. One can only imagine how horrific, traumatic and tragic the events leading up to that adoption were. That little girl, who endured so much struggle and pain, not only overcame: She won. She is now the world’s most decorated gymnast. Oh yes, we overcome.
Gabby Douglas took home both a bronze and gold medal from this year’s Olympics. Raised by a single-parent mother, Douglas face every financial struggle a gymnast could. Her drive pushed her into the home of a family miles away from her own, to train with the coach who would help her become a superstar. She was criticized because of her hair, since black women cannot escape constant scrutiny, even while performing in the biggest gymnastic championships in the world. The little girl who tumbled all about her mother’s house, heart-brokenly watched her struggle to work to pay for her gymnastics training and scoffed in the face of criticism about her appearance overcame. She is the first African-American woman in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics. Oh yes, we overcome.
How do we continue to succeed despite every obstacle? Despite the many who root, not in our support, but for our failure? How do we consistently disprove the myth that we are inferior because our kinky hair or melanated skin must obviously intimidated others?
How do we consistently endure and overcome every possible obstacle? Mounting and surmounting so many challenges, gracefully somersaulting over everything in our way?
Some call it #BlackGirlMagic. The secret, special something that we are dusted with from birth, us courageous, powerful Black women. Us unshakeable, unbreakable Black women.
Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas just shared their magic with the world, for millions of Black girls to see. We are on #BlackGirlMagic overload right now, the world is completely saturated in it.
Black girls and women are coming for the world.
And we will endure. We will persevere. We will overcome. And we will win.