This year’s Olympics have been incredible for black athletes with three women in particular, Simone Biles, Michelle Carter and Simone Manuel, winning gold and making history in the process. Biles is the most decorated US gymnast of all times, Manuel is the first black woman to win gold in an individual Olympic swimming event and Carter is the first American woman EVER to win gold in shot put. Lebron James, who just made history himself as part of the first basketball team to come back from a 3–1 deficit to win an NBA championship, reflected on how inspiring the historic wins were for him and his daughter.
The image, also posted to James’ Facebook page sparked the ire of many non-black fans who felt the basketball star’s unapologetic celebration of black achievement was divisive.
Of course there were a few commenters that actually ‘got it.’
People can boo-hoo all they want. Race still matters very VERY much. Simone Manuel’s win comes at a time when blacks are historically and systematically cut off from access to swimming pools. Beach and swimming pool bans for blacks were a fixture of segregation and, though no longer technically legal, continue today with incredibly low access to pools in black communities. Furthermore, demeaning ‘beliefs’ about black people and water continue to circulate, with some white people honestly thinking that black people cannot float because they have denser bones. As for gymnastics, it is an expensive to train in, making it traditionally inaccessible to many black Americans, who have some of the lowest socioeconomic outcomes in this country. Gabby Douglas’ mother has gone on record detailing the incredible sacrifices she made as a single mother — including sending her daughter out of state to live and train — to give Gabby a shot at greatness. Simone Biles’ parents adopted her from a drug-abusing mother and, in the process, invested in her talent. So race does indeed matter, because the playing field was NEVER even.