Why Simone Manuel’s Victory is Mired in the Reality of Being Black in America
#BlackGirlMagic never felt so good. I am kind of wary about throwing that hashtag around because as much as I relish the opportunity for Black girls to feel included in the global narrative that so often leaves us out — I also don’t want to propel the notion that our ability to compete with the best of them and win is somehow linked to an extraordinary symptom that only some of us are lucky to catch.
Black girls are naturally gifted and fundamentally sound with none of the baggage that we are forced to carry against our will. It’s not magic. It’s a natural tendency towards excellence.
The Olympic Games in Rio is working out perfectly as two champions with the same first name — Simone — have emerged as the nation’s most beloved characters in a real-life drama that is bloated with colorful patriotism and endearingly mandated heroism.
Simone Biles struck gold with her epic somersaults. She is officially the most revered gymnast in the world.
Simone Manuel destroyed the myth that Black people are afraid to “wade in the water.”
She is now the very “first African-American female swimmer to take gold in an individual event.”
We are all proud of how well all the victors of #Rio2016 have performed so far — but of course there has to be more emphasis levied on competitors with melanin because we desperately need a win!
People of color in America need to believe that the headlines pertaining to their well-being will not forever be soaked in the blood of victims who constantly pay the high price of being Black in America.
So, this batch of good news reassures us that no matter how fucked up things get — there is always something to cheer for — and that in itself is magical.
Watching these two girls not only contend with the responsibility of representing their country to the best of their ability — but also tasked with the assignment of recognizing the truth of being Black girls who need to perform magic on command — was nothing short of miraculous.
Thank God for fairytales that come true for the benefit of our little girls who never question the ongoing struggle for role models that look exactly like them.
None of the White athletes have to deliver politically-inclined speeches when accepting their prestigious medals.
That summarizes the epitome of White privilege.
Simone Manuel was forced to use her moment in the spotlight to highlight the dire predicament of her people who are cheering her on — while they continue to pray for the mercy of the gods to spare their lives — another day.
Instead of being an American who happened to kick ass to the point of greatness and notoriety — Manual made the distinction between White America and Black America when commenting on her immaculate win.
“It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality,” Manuel said. “This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory.”
How heartbreaking that such a young soul with so much to live for and a talent that surpasses understanding — was forced to include the horrific status of an existence that mirrors the definition of what it means to be American — according to her complicated background.
We should be ashamed as Americans that one of our own is forced to acknowledge that the lives of those that should matter are in fact being extinguished by the sadistic mentality of the police force.
Law enforcement should be thoroughly and utterly ashamed.
As much as I revel in the gorgeousness of knowing that Black girls in this country will have the pleasure of imagining the thrill of bouncing off a high beam or plowing through kilometers of water in search of newfound glory — I also can’t ignore the vibrant stain of betrayal by a country that promised to keep us proud no matter where we find ourselves.
America was disgraced the moment Simone Manuel dedicated her noteworthy moment to those who have been gunned down as punishment for the sins that will never be forgiven.
At least not in my lifetime.
I commend this young and beautiful Black girl for answering the call to duty. The weight of shining bright while also being the torch bearer for the tormented souls that will undoubtedly rest easy after such a public shoutout — isn’t a necessity that anyone should bear — but being Black in America comes with a manual that only we can interpret.
The rest of you — watch and listen with no input. No matter how hard you try — you can’t read our language.