Gabby Douglas, Damien Hooper, and the 2012 PimpLympics
My heart and eyes watched young Olympian Gabby Douglas with desperation. A painful craving that reached deep into my overwhelmed, poverty-stricken and sorrow-filled soul.
From the first minute young, strong, beautiful and black Gabby appeared on the Disney production, known as the 2012 Olympics which I have affectionately re-named the PimpLympics, my eight year old son and I have been glued to the screen, coughing, hacking and guffawing through an onslaught of kkkorporate public relations lies from BP oil ( who destroyed the water of the entire Gulf Coast where so many young people of color live, fish and try to swim, McDonalds ( who makes so many of our poor young people of color at –risk of diabetes and heart disease with their fat-filled, GMO created food), DeVry University (with its overwhelming quickly mounting tuition debt and seemingly easy access for so many young folks of color) and thousands of other corporations too many to mention, so we could cry, scream, dream and root for Gabhy.
And then when Gabby won the first all around gold medal last night, I cried, deep, sorrow-filled and yet elated tears. I cried first for her mama, who raised such a strong, powerful young wombyn and was so proud right now,, then I cried for my mama, a young mixed race (African-Taino-Roma) girl who always wanted to be a singer, a gymnast, a long distance runner, but who never was cared for, or watched or even loved enough by anyone in the orphanage she was raised in to get that chance and instead was experimented on, hated, racialized and left. Then I cried for all the other young people of color and specifically young Black people (cause Race does matter), who I work along side, teach and learn from who don’t even think they can move their poor bodies of color enough to become the next Gabby Douglass. Who might, because of Gabby, dream that dream, if even for a day, and reach up beyond the intentionally limited choices ever offered to them.
So then, with a momentary, silly smile and a tear-soaked face, I went to bed. And then I woke up. And I realized, that they got me. Disney, Devry, Dow, BP and MickeyD’s hooked me in. It was Obama all over again. For a minute of critical thinking-less reality, I believed it. The Princess and the frog had been re-cast, this time using live characters. And I believed. I believed we could flyyyyyyy. All of us , out of racism, poverty, the insane and disgusting prison industrial complex, racist occupying armies known as the po’lice and the plantation of Amerikkka. Meanwhile, the revolution of John Carlos and Tommy Smith, who I had posted about in the beginning of the pimplympics, floated down my face-crak timeline with the simple corporate ease of Zuckerburg getting another billion dollars for some nothing thing he just did.
Gabby is a beautiful young, dark-skinned woman, her mama is a powerful and strong single mama, who did an amazing and beautiful job. Everything that I know about their process to get this medal is based in determination and focus which all young people need and should gain strength from Additionally, race and racism in Amerikkka is real, the lack of young peoples of color images that are positive is serious and the ways that poor children of color and adults are fetishized and portrayed as gangsters, thugs or just not seen at all is equally serious. My mama knew this when she sent my witegurl looking self out to rent apartments at 12 with a lie about how I was 25 and making $60,000 a year, because she, as a low income mama of color would be automatically seen as suspect and a “bad” tenant and not rented to when we were living in our car houseless in AMerikkka But the frightening thing is the narrative of the young Gabby Douglass was the narrative necessary to move the kkkorporate lies along. And in the US- her story was perfect in terms of bootstraps, Horatio Alger based capitalism perfection.
Poor people of color like me and my mama and all of the folks at POOR Magazine are told everyday that all we need to do is work hard, stop being lazy and we will get ahead. And yet so many of us, work so hard, are extremely focused and we still oddly never “get out” much less get ahead, whatever that even means anyway. This obsession with “productivity” hard work as defined by corporations and US capitalist values, has nothing to do with loving or caring for our ancestors, our elders, our mothers, our brothers and sisters incarcerated and in struggle and ultimately with our Mother Earth.
“Gold metals, you can’t eat those, the children in my Harlem neighborhood can’t eat those, said by John Carlos in 1968 when he and Tommy Smith, took off their shoes and showed their black socks and put their black gloved hands in the air for Black power, liberation, poverty and black peoples, poor peoples self-determined futures .
So then I go back, and think about the millions of dollars stolen by the London mayor and pimplympics committee from crucial government services like the funding of disabled people services pointed out to me by my brother in struggle Leroy Moore of Krip Hop, the ways in which EVERY single city who brings these large corporate sport events to their towns like the Olympics, the Superbowl and the World Cup immediately begins displacing, evicting and sometimes even killing their poor residents in the case of the ShackDwellers Union in South Africa facing rubber bullets when they refused to leave their shanty towns or the 400 poor people tenants, mostly of African and South Asian descent of East London evicted to make room for a 2012 Olympic stadium so vollyball could commence in shiny new corporate splendor.
Or the not –kkkoporate digestible Damien Hooper, aboriginal boxer who was stripped of his ability to compete because he made the brutal “mistake” of wearning a t-shirt of the aboriginal flag of this peoples.
So then I go back again to the beautiful and proud face of Gabby and Cullen Jones – one of the first African –Americans that I have seen in the Olympic pool- at least in my Olympic herstory. Go Wid yer baaad selves and even if you don’t get up at the end on your collective podiums and raise the black power fist or rock the African Peoples Unity flag on your t-shirts. I’m going to claim your wins back for the people. Your glory wasn't won for Dow chemical, your wins didn’t get me or Tiburcio or Tony to go to DeVry or think differently about the violence and murder of BP oil, or the sick food of McDonalds, rather you brought the spirit of hundreds of years of African peoples liberation into the eyes of the world for just one night and the Orishas heard you and the ancestors upon whose shoulders you were standing on heard you. And the thousands of poor young children of color saw you and felt you and for that one minute 45 seconds, became you. Ase’ Damien and Cullen and Gabby Douglas,- this mama is so proud of all of you.