Updated: August 23, 2016


Olympic_Logo3.jpgGary Norris Gray-BASN-Staff Reporter

OAKLAND,CA-The Rio Olympics signified the emergence of the African-American athlete especially the sisters at championship levels in an expanding range of sports. Yet the media neglected to report these accomplishments. Gymnast Gabby Douglas was criticized relentlessly, while swimmer Ryan Lochte was given a pass for his offensive conduct. Consider this poem from four years ago. How much has changed?


Pony Tail
By 16 year old Jasmine Waiters at Notre Dame College in Belmont, California
This self hated knock us out
Us as a Black community are unconscious
Time for us to wake up and come too
Do you all even realize the adversity she had to fight through?
Her mama facing bankruptcy, for her daughter’s dream to come true
And you all are talking about, you all talking about her hair
Ain’t up to par, ain’t up to par for who
She took uneven bar and raised the bar for you
So what more could you ask for
She ran the barriers broke barricades took the Olympic Flame
Lead a path for little Black girls
She did a back flip that landed her in the history books
Put on a performance that no-one can compare too
That was hard enough to trail
She became something out of nothing
And yet the topic of discussion has become her pony tail
Not the fact that she the first African American with gold on that podium
We are giving her grief when she deserves pandemonium
We ought to be the number one source where the love and support should be coming from
Because flips and falls they can break bones
But the words of our mouths can leave her undone
That’s why I cannot phantom how we can be so belligerent
She is 16 doing big things yet we chose to belittle her with our ignorance
Trying to our own insecurities by robbing her of her innocence
Who are we to be so arrogant?
She is 16 and not whippy not 16 and pregnant
Being on MTV does not compare to being on NBC
She is balancing more than a beam
When I look at her I see me I see the possibility I see the opportunities that she proves me
I have a niece who might do a floor routine because she saw Gabby Douglas do the same thing
And that inspires me she brought nothing but success to our culture
and in return we scavenge for something insignificant and eat it up like vultures
She was born into a situation that statistics state that she would fail yet she found a way
to overcome it.
So I find it repugnant to sit here and talk about her pony tail
I don’t care about her hair
She is on the big stage under bright lights
She is a product of our ancestors, the reason why Martin Luther King died for our rights
My only question is what is Gabby Douglas if ignorance is bliss
Then what can we be proud of if you cannot be proud of this
Ask yourself
Because I’m proud I know I’m proud because my president is Black and my favorite
gymnast is too
Now rap that pony tail Gabby I’ll even rap that with you



This country keeps stumbling and bumbling over its own racism AGAIN. The United States Olympic swimming team member Ryan Lochte got on a plane and headed back to the United States after he committed a crime of privilege. Nothing new here but the behavior of African American athletes in Rio should be commended for not following in Ryan’s footsteps.

African Americans are told by their parents when they go on trips to act like they have been there before. Somehow Ryan Lochte and his teammates did not get that message. The (USOC) United States Olympic Committee most likely told the American athletes traveling to Rio the same message.

Mr. Lochte cast a shadow on the amazing accomplishments of our African American female athletes and our Olympic team as a whole.

Years ago American swimming hero Michael Phielps was also given a pass for his drug misconduct. He was caught drinking and driving twice and being photographed with a marijuana bong at a party at the University of South Carolina. Phielps has since cleaned up his act, won more gold medals and got married. Lochte might be on this same path.


America cannot praise BLACK greatness because it might just make them realize that African Americans are human. The attack on African American women (Gabby Douglas) was shameful and disgraceful. This woman brought the gold medal home four years ago and did it again this year in Rio. This attack came because Douglas did not put her hand over her heart when the National Anthem was played. Her hair was too nappy AGAIN.


These are same media hordes that attacked the United States men’s basketball (ALL AFRICAN AMERICAN) team because they did not win by larger margins. The men’s team went undefeated, beating Serbia 96-66 for the last American gold medal of the Rio Games. Carmelo Anthony guided this All Star talented team. NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  Herm Edwards stated many years ago, “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME.” Edwards did not say by how much.

The media tried to ignore the great accomplishments of our talented African American sisters in Rio. If the American (ALL CULTURES) ladies were a country, they would have come in third place overall at the Summer Games in Rio.

The Sisters had a private meeting before leaving the United States and dedicated these games to the African American struggle. These young ladies wanted to give Black youth across the country something to cheer and be proud of. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!


The queen, the matriarch, the senior citizen, Venus Williams won a silver medal in the Olympic Mixed Doubles Tennis Championship. The American sports media did not say a word.


Simone Biles won five gold medals in gymnastics. Ms. Biles was so grand that she created a move on the floor that bears her name; that is historic, and no matter how the media spins it, they cannot take that away. Biles became the poster child at the end of the Rio Games for the American team. Will Simone get her face on the Wheaties Cereal Box? Four years ago The Breakfast of Champions failed Gabby Douglas, still have not seen the Gabby Wheaties box.


The United States dominated the women’s 100 meter hurdles. All three American runners earned a medal: Brianna Rollins earned gold at 12.48 seconds, Nia Ali captured silver at 12.59 seconds and Kristi Castlin garnered bronze at 12.61 seconds. This would be the first time one nation took all three medals.


Simone Manuel won a gold medal in the 100 meters freestyle becoming the first African American to do so, muffling the voices that stated African Americans could not swim, instead of stating the obvious and rebuking America’s often ugly history of segregated swimming pools and beaches. These same beaches were abandoned by white patrons or sprinkled with acid to keep black children out in the 1950s; or simply barred African Americans. In my home state of New Jersey beaches were roped off and designated for either Caucasian or Black swimmers until 1960. Ms. Manuel also captured the gold medal in the 4 x 100 medley relays and then silver twice in the women’s 50 freestyle and the 4 x 100 relay.

We must also give a shout out to African American swimmers Maritza Correia and Cullen Jones who paved the way for Manuel to stand on the podium in Rio. \

Ashleigh Johnson also defied the odds in the pool. Ashleigh received a gold medal as the goalie for the American Women’s Water Polo Team. Johnson was the first African-American to have ever been on the women’s water polo team. Johnson never complained to her teammates about mistakes unlike the American women’s soccer goalie Hope Solo.

Michelle Carter won the gold medal in the shot put. The USA has not received a medal for this event since 1960 with Earlene Brown. Carter broke the world record.


Ibtihaj Muhammad won a bronze medal in fencing the first medal for African American woman. Muhammad earned that bronze medal in the traditional Muslim hijab, very proud of her religion as well as her country. She is also from my home state of New Jersey and attended Duke University and was a NCAA three-time All-American.

Fencer Daryl Homer represented America in individual sabre category and became the first American to win Olympic silver in 112 years. Homer defeated Mojtaba Abedini from Iran for the silver medal. He also won the silver medal last year in the world championships in Moscow.

Miles Chamley-Watson received a bronze in Team Foil as they defeated team Italy. Watson created his own move that bears his name in Rio. If you think Mr. Watson’s name is British you would be correct. He was born in London before the family moved to New York City when Miles was 8 years old.


Claressa Shields repeated her gold medal performance in boxing in the middleweight division. Shields did this four years ago in London.  Claressa became the first female to win back to back gold medals. Shields sent a silent tribute to the residents of Flint, Michigan (by winning) who are struggling with the lead water poisoning.

Allyson Felix earned a silver medal in the 400 meter run at 49.51 seconds after Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas dived over the finish line. Felix, a Los Angeles native, is the most decorated American woman in Olympic track and field history with seven career Olympic medals. Felix will most likely retire before the Tokyo Games in 2020.


Then there is my new favorite Olympic athlete, Tiny Tori Bowie, who earned three medals during her Olympic debut, winning a gold, silver, and bronze in separate events. Bowie’s positive energy on the track spreads to all of her teammates and that makes them a better team.

With a 27’6” leap, Jeff Henderson won gold in the long jump. This was the first time an American earned a gold medal in the event since 2004. Henderson dedicated the gold to his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Justin Gatlin battled against track superstar Usain Bolt who kept his title “fastest man in the world” in the 100 meter dash. Although he could not outrun Bolt (9.81 seconds), Gatlin came in at 9.89 seconds and earned silver for the United States. Now think about this Gatlin ran against Bolt so many times. Justin could be the fastest man on earth if not for the Jamaican flash. This year he missed by 8 tenths of a second.

Anthony Ervin, who is 35 years old, won a gold medal in the 50 meter freestyle and the 4×100 freestyle relay. This was sixteen years after the 2000 Summer Olympics where he won a gold medal in the men’s 50-meter freestyle, and a silver medal in the 4×100-meter freestyle event, and was the first swimmer of African descent to medal in Olympic swimming. Ervin opened to door for young African American males to try competitive swimming.

Christian Taylor defended his gold medal in the triple jump and now has two gold medals in the event. His teammate Will Claye earned silver. Taylor won gold in the 2015 World Championships and was a 10-time NCAA All-American. Claye was also the SEC men’s Field Athlete of the Year and the NCAA Outdoor Champion in 2009. Claye proposed to American hurdler Queen Harrison shortly after earning silver in the triple jump.

These super athletes represented the Red, White, and Blue without anger; they participated in the Rio Games with inner pain knowing what has happened in our country. They just happen to be Black.

The (USOC) United States Olympic Committee or the (IOC) International Olympic Committee did not want to see a repeat of the John Carlos-Tommy Smith incident at the 1968 Games in Mexico City. In 2016, Rio Black athletes were intelligent as they made quick statements to reporters the USOC-IOC could not censor, nor could they fine these athletes for speaking the truth. These athletes told the world what was going on in the United States in two minute sound bites.


The Black athlete did not make a scene in Brazil unlike other athletes at the closing days of the games. A few swimmers decided to get drunk and ride around the city, creating havoc.

The American news media ran to the defense of Mr. Lochte claiming that he is a KID and we should give him a break. SORRY WRONG ANSWER. The Brazilian papers had it correct and many Rio citizens were not pleased with Lochte and his teammates antics. Hate to break the news but Mr. Lochte is not a kid at 32 years old and he should have known better.

This is what Mr. Lochte and his teammates did, relieving themselves outside on the walls of the gas station because they did not get the key to the restroom.

Mr. Lochte destroyed property in Rio and had to be detained by a local security guard until the police arrived. Mr. Lochte did not stay in Rio to hear the consequences. This is the image of the UGLY AMERICAN, Mr. Lochte and friends just reinforced that image.

Do you remember the 1978 National Lampoon movie “Animal House” with Saturday Night Live star John Belushi? This is one of the most disgusting movies I have ever seen, but many white citizens think it is funny. This movie not only portrays WHITE PRIVILEGE but reinforces it. These young men are allowed to say and do anything without repercussions.

Oh no, it is just young college kids having fun, it is just boys being boys. Blowing up toilets, breaking windows and doors, taking drugs, having food fights and disrespecting school authorities. REALLY?

Ryan Lochte knew this and took advantage of his skin tone and green-silver hair. The question remains will he pay for his transgressions or will he get a pass like swimming legend Michael Phielps?

Now think what would happen if African American students had that same “fun?” The school authorities would have called the police and expelled the students. Black students would have been a threat to the school and to other students. THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE!!!!

So we must raise our glasses and give a toast to our African American athletes who acted like they have been there before, as my late Godmother Sue Gibson-Johnson Robinson stated many times, “KILL THE GHOST.” These young women and men did just that, bringing home the medals.

Sorry we could not list all of the Brothers and Sisters in this year’s Olympic Games but we are very proud of the work and dedication in 2016.




You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou


P.S. The fallout has already begun with Speedo and Ralph Lauren withdrawing their sponsorship from the Lochte swimming team.

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod


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