After winning Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Gabrielle Douglas did not put her hand over her heart with the rest of her team when the national anthem came on. This of course sparked outrage overnight, but her not “pledging” is justifiable. Whether she meant to or not, Gabrielle committed a revolutionary act against white supremacy and American hypocrisy.
Remember in 1968, when John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised a “black power” fist in the Olympic Games? That showed black strength despite the injustices we faced during that time. Even that made white people upset. What is it with people getting angry over black people not pledging to America like they do? But you can’t blame us.
After 400+ years of injustice towards black people in America, there is really no reason for black people to give allegiance to this country. When everyday another black person becomes a hashtag to raise awareness about their death in the hands of rogue policemen, why pledge allegiance? Why sing about how “free” a nation is if true freedom is something we still cannot get? American wealth has been built on the labor of enslaved black people. America has not given anything back to black people after all of the traumatic experiences we went through, and continue to go through. What has America done for us as a people?
Of course there are those who would argue that America “gave us rights”, but my question is: Why was America, specifically white people in power, ever in a position to give and take away rights of a group of people that they enslaved? Why should we be “grateful” for an Emancipation Proclamation? Why were we ever slaves in the first place? I find it so funny that white Americans boast about “risking their lives for our freedom”, but never acknowledge the fact that they denied us freedom in the first place, and continue to mistreat us in 2016.
Whether she knows it or not, Gabrielle Douglas told America and the world that although she has “USA” on her jacket, she is not of “USA”. She is part of the land mass, but the system is not in her favor. Just because you play for a country does not mean that the country loves you back. Playing for a country is one thing, but how are you and your people mistreated? Gabrielle Douglas faced racism in her own country, in her own gym even. To not raise your hand is to not give up yourself to a system that doesn’t treat you as an American citizen.
As Minister Farrakhan teaches, you should stand in respect to acknowledge America as an independent nation, as that is what we should aspire to be like: A nation inside a nation. But you don’t pledge allegiance to that which doesn’t give you the basic respect of a “citizen”. Do American citizens get threats of being lynched? Do American citizens get denied basic rights in the hand of police? Are American citizens supposed to be brutalized, mocked, ridiculed, and mistreated by other American citizens? . We are not seen as citizens.
Congratulations Team USA on your win. Gabrielle Douglas: Your black excellence helps to dismantle white supremacy. Keep showing how amazing we can be, along with other talented black athletes.
(Follow Nzinga Muhammad on Twitter @QueenNzinga13)