With a smile that can brighten the darkest days and a laugh that can melt the hardest of hearts, Gabby Douglas is the golden girl of United States’ Olympics gymnastics team.
Behind every fairytale and all the pomp and pageantry of the Olympics, there’s a story of struggle, determination, faith, and bravery.
Beginning her intense Olympic training only two years ago, Gabby and her family made the heart-wrenching decision to send the then 14-year-old some 1200 miles away to train in West Des Moines, Iowa.
With her loving family all the way in Virginia Beach, VA, Gabby began to see her dream as an Olympic gymnast as just that- a dream.
Missing the security and comfort of being around her family and friends, Gabby seriously contemplated leaving the gym floor and stepping down from the balance beam for good.
But with encouragement from her big sister and mother, Gabby continued to pursue a dream that once seemed improbable.
Unlike the typical Olympic gymnast narrative, Gabby was the unfocused gymnast with raw talent, but her coaches didn’t know if raw talent alone would be enough to get Gabby to the big leagues.
Despite winning the women’s all-around gold in gymnastics, Gabby’s resume was filled with inconsistencies compared to her fellow U.S.A. teammates.
Luckily for Gabby, she learned to focus her worry-filled world, and channel her gymnastic abilities to a new height- literally.
Two years later, Gabby would return to the United States with two Olympic gold medals and will be recorded in history as the first African American female to ever win an Olympic gold medal for the all-around gymnastics competition.
Looking at Gabby with her metallic gold medal dangling from her neck, I instantly reverted back to my childhood and the days when I aspired to be like Dominique Dawes.
As Gabby relished her win and absored the energy from the thousands of fans who celebrated her glory, I thought about the millions of young black girls who were watching Gabby’s success, dreaming to be just like her.
I know many people will say, “this shouldn’t be about race,” which it isn’t. But as we all know, people identify and relate to people who look just like them, and Gabby Douglas shares the same face of many young black girls with dreams of being prolific.
With powerful black women like Michelle Obama, Cathy Hughes, Tina Wells, Oprah Winfrey, and now Gabby Douglas fulfilling their dreams right in front of our eyes, young black girls can start to see themselves outside of the shallow stifling boundaries of being the next female rapper or video vixen, and actually conquer those outlandish dreams one protects within their own thoughts.
Instead of using your bodies to mesmerize men, use your mind and determination to mesmerize the world.
Whether she knows it or not, Gabby gives young black girls and young American girls the courage to fly up to the moon and the hope to sail amongst the stars .
I only have one message to tell young black girls in America. Push boundries. Push your critics. Push your mind. Push your body. Push your spirit. Push to love yourself. Push to be the “next” Gabby Douglas.
But most importantly, push to be great.
Brittany Lewis is the Music Editor at GlobalGrind and a Howard University Alumna. Brittany considers herself seasoned on all the pop culture ish that matters. Follow her on Twitter @Buttercup_B.