OT A discussion of racism in the gymnastics world

Parents... Coaches... Gymnasts...
Gymnastics Questions?
Don't Lurk... We've Got Answers!

New For 2022
MEMBERS ONLY Parent Group!
Join for FREE!
Status
Not open for further replies.

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Jan 21, 2007
4,500
Baltimore, MD
[Mod hat on]

There are rules in place for this thread specifically designed to prevent members from getting ganged up on in other parts of the forum as a result of what they say here.

[Mod hat off]

There does seem to be this pattern where any time somebody tries to have an earnest discussion of racism, people instantly try to deflect it into a discussion of "the woke mob." Always the same reaction, always very similar phrasing, always immediately, before much discussion of the subject has occurred. I've seen this happen in many places, not just here. It's like there's a specific common playbook that many people are pulling from.
To me, it reads as "whattaboutism," a red herring to distract and shut down any discussion of racial issues. That this pattern is so consistent all the way down to the specific phrasing seems to me very bizarre.
 
Last edited:

gymjunkie

Coach
Proud Parent
Judge
Sep 9, 2013
746
I have a few comments about gymnastics in general. As a coach with grey roots, I will describe a few changes I have seen over the decades of my life...

-Middle splits used to be called Chinese splits. This was changed because it was "racist," but the term "Russian lift" or "Russian tap" were not racist.
-A double stag stretch or leap was called a swastika stretch or leap and somehow that was an acceptable name for these skills
-Darker skinned gymnasts were judged more harshly and considered out of place in the sport because their toe point was generally weaker than lighter skinned gymnasts. As darker skinned gymnasts began to dominate the higher levels of the sport, many lighter skinned gymnasts with less than perfect toe point (ie: Aly) were also able to rise up in the sport. Now the balletic body type is considered less desirable. Too bad we can't have room for both and offer a scoring system that acknowledges both strengths and a includes a multitude of body types. So some of what could be considered racist was just as much a body-type discrimination.
-Since labeling everything "racist" these days, I have overheard younger gymnasts involved in conversations like this one:

pre-tween gymnast A: "My favorite food is pizza"
pre-tween gymnast B: "My favorite food is spaghetti"
pre-tween gymnast C: "I like Chinese food"
entire group of gymnasts to gymnast C: "that's RACIST!"

Clearly young kids don't really get racism.

I'm happy to say that I have never personally seen team kids or parents discriminate against teammates or coaches whose skin color was different from theirs. That could just be the bubble I live in.

I never followed Skinner's tweets at all (mostly because I wasn't a fan of her gymnastics). When she addressed it on the mini-series that is airing right now, she didn't mention anything about the N word & I'm wondering why the producers allowed her to talk about it at all without actually addressing the true controversy of her tweets. They made it sound like it was her sour grapes attitude that made her unpopular, when obviously it was much more.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ldw4mlo

Geoffrey Taucer

Staff member
Gold Membership
Coach
Jan 21, 2007
4,500
Baltimore, MD
I'm a straight cis white guy, who has faced very little real discrimination of any form. Perhaps a little for being a non-Christian in the south, the occasional homophobic insult for being involved in an allegedly-girly sport, but never for something like race. So the following should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

With young athletes (and to me, college age is still young, even if they're officially adults) I'm inclined to be somewhat forgiving. They're still learning what's appropriate and what's not, still learning to filter their bad influences from their good influences, still learning what is acceptable as "edgy humor" and what crosses the line into harmful bigotry. A lot of them have probably not yet gotten past the social circle and culture they grew up in. None of these factors excuse bigotry, but they do explain it.

To me, the crucial thing to consider is how they respond when called on it. To me, there's three crucial things to look for before healing and forgiveness can occur:
1) An unqualified admission of error. "I screwed up." "I was wrong." If the response is more along the lines of "it's okay because...." or "it's not my fault because...." that is not sufficient.
2) An apology. Again, it should be along the lines of "I'm sorry I hurt you," not "I'm sorry if you were hurt."
3) A change in behavior. The first two mean nothing if nothing changes.
 
Last edited:
D

Deleted member 26744

When I saw recent pictures of Simone and Mykayla together I wondered how Simone feels about it. Do you think it upsets her but she just tries not to show it?
 

GYM0M

Proud Parent
Jul 23, 2013
1,398
From what I have heard, their friendship is genuine. IMO, the context in which she tweeted the word was not meant to be derogatory, which is not an excuse by any means, but also IMO, Simone seems to have a forgiving attitude. Maybe they had a heart to heart and hopefully Simone (or someone else) was able to get through to Mykayla. Most people were more upset by the fact that Myk refused to admit that she did anything wrong back then.
 

GYM0M

Proud Parent
Jul 23, 2013
1,398
I don’t know anything about emojis. I just read about a tweet on Reddit.
EDIT: didn’t mean to post comment, so removed
 

Flicfliclay

Proud Parent
Aug 12, 2016
964
48
I will chime in here.. NO i am not condoning anything, just making people aware that MyKayla did not write the tweet.. She re-tweeted a pic that someone posted.. and the person who originally posted it put the see no evil monkey in their verbiage on that tweet. Also, she was young when it happened and i am sorry but the average person at 19-20 yrs old is immature and i am sure she was pissed about not making the team. She was 4th! She should have been the one going! Either way, she should have handled things differently. From my knowledge of her, she is super kind and by no means even kind of a racists. People eff up sometimes and should be given some grace. It sucks that there certainly is racism out there at all against every race. I hate that. I wish everyone could just realize we are all just the HUMAN race.
 
D

Deleted member 26718

I don't want to bring race into this because for some reason people seem to get very defensive when race is brought up, but I can't help wondering if a white gymnast would be receiving this same criticism....

They would be, and you literally DID bring race into it. Plenty of examples of white athletes facing endless criticism from social media for their failings. You present no example of "this white athlete did the identical thing and faced very little criticism." That's the problem. You inject race into it, present no evidence and then all you've done is stir up racial division without any basis.

Simone should be defended as an athlete, not for her race. People making it about race are part of the problem.
 

superflipgirl

Gymnast
Jul 17, 2009
217
They would be, and you literally DID bring race into it. Plenty of examples of white athletes facing endless criticism from social media for their failings. You present no example of "this white athlete did the identical thing and faced very little criticism." That's the problem. You inject race into it, present no evidence and then all you've done is stir up racial division without any basis.

Simone should be defended as an athlete, not for her race. People making it about race are part of the problem.
I think people who get unnecessarily mad about these internalized racism claims or claim that people bringing race into it are "part of the problem" have an issue with race more than they claim...just saying...

And while I can't think of any athletes off the top of my head, I know that for years, racial stereotypes have made it hard for black women to freely express their emotions and make decisions surrounding their mental health. While many of those criticizing Simone for her decisions may feel exactly the same way about a white athlete doing the same, they without realizing it are feeding into the harmful expectations that society places on black women.
 
D

Deleted member 26718

While many of those criticizing Simone for her decisions may feel exactly the same way about a white athlete doing the same, they without realizing it are feeding into the harmful expectations that society places on black women.

So someone who gives criticism which is NOT based on race, is somehow also worsening a racial issue? You need to reevaluate.
 

superflipgirl

Gymnast
Jul 17, 2009
217
So someone who gives criticism which is NOT based on race, is somehow also worsening a racial issue? You need to reevaluate.
I never directly said that, but I feel like the fact that you are responding in this way is kind of further proving my point.

I never directly accused any individual of having racial biases in their criticisms of Simone, but rather spoke about how I feel that black women already get so much hate for issues surrounding feelings and mental health, and I can't help but wonder if some of these criticisms are rooted in internal biases. I don't remember if on this thread you were one of the ones who directly criticized Simone, but I would not have messaged you personally and accused you of having racial prejudices--I have no way of deciding that if I don't know more about the person themselves.

However, when I DO bring up the notion that I feel some of the criticism from the community may be rooted in harmful stereotypes/expectations, you act defensive and claim that it is not. THAT, to me, sounds like the type of words that are "worsening a racial issue." I never said that anyone in particular was worsening a racial issue by criticizing her, but the fact that you want to completely deny that any criticism towards her may have inherently racist undertones and instead say "people who bring race into this are the problem" really suggests that any issues you have with her may be rooted in racial bias more than you think.
 

gymgal

Gold Membership
Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,655
And I don't want to bring race into this because for some reason people seem to get very defensive when race is brought up, but I can't help wondering if a white gymnast would be receiving this same criticism....

You can stop wondering. ;) I am the OP and I would have thought the same about Jade or MyKayla if they were in the same position. I would have felt the same about any athlete in that position.

It is clear that most others who responded did not agree with me and that's OK. They shared their thoughts and a few caused me to change my view on some points. This thread went 5 full pages during a time when CB has been very slow in threads and comments. You may be angry with the topic but it was a very good discussion.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ldw4mlo
D

Deleted member 26718

Not really interested in being too involved in this thread, and I wish topics could be cohesive without being broken up like this. But I understand the intent. Anyway, I just want to focus on the following, w/rto the discussion with superflipgirl:

I firmly believe you have positive intentions. My position is just different, for how to respond to the problem. And I will note - I have recently blocked some really ignorant people on social media who have commented against Simone. I just have no tolerance left for any of them, nor should any of it be tolerated. Do I believe some are racially motivated - sadly, yes. But I also think a majority of this garbage would still be prevalent if it was a white person or any other race. There are several aspects to it other than race. One is U.S. pride ("we have to win!") Another is total indifference toward athletes as people, which may have been fueled over the decades by so many poorly-behaved millionaire athletes in big team sports. And another is just ignorance of the dangers of gymnastics. Like she's just supposed to "suck it up" and somehow it will be fine, and not risk her life or future.

Anyway, my point goes back to this quote from you:

While many of those criticizing Simone for her decisions may feel exactly the same way about a white athlete doing the same, they without realizing it are feeding into the harmful expectations that society places on black women.

I don't know how else to interpret this quote other than to say, it seems like you are expecting even those who may be "color blind" to the issue, to still take extra steps to be constantly sensitive about all of the possible societal consequences of their words. And for now just take me personally out of the equation. But the following is really what I want to say, and I'll end here:

If we have to constantly ask people who ARE racially unbiased, to censor and limit themselves because of others, or because of the society - where is the end goal?? How can we ever reach any end goal?
 

superflipgirl

Gymnast
Jul 17, 2009
217
Not really interested in being too involved in this thread, and I wish topics could be cohesive without being broken up like this. But I understand the intent. Anyway, I just want to focus on the following, w/rto the discussion with superflipgirl:

I firmly believe you have positive intentions. My position is just different, for how to respond to the problem. And I will note - I have recently blocked some really ignorant people on social media who have commented against Simone. I just have no tolerance left for any of them, nor should any of it be tolerated. Do I believe some are racially motivated - sadly, yes. But I also think a majority of this garbage would still be prevalent if it was a white person or any other race. There are several aspects to it other than race. One is U.S. pride ("we have to win!") Another is total indifference toward athletes as people, which may have been fueled over the decades by so many poorly-behaved millionaire athletes in big team sports. And another is just ignorance of the dangers of gymnastics. Like she's just supposed to "suck it up" and somehow it will be fine, and not risk her life or future.

Anyway, my point goes back to this quote from you:



I don't know how else to interpret this quote other than to say, it seems like you are expecting even those who may be "color blind" to the issue, to still take extra steps to be constantly sensitive about all of the possible societal consequences of their words. And for now just take me personally out of the equation. But the following is really what I want to say, and I'll end here:

If we have to constantly ask people who ARE racially unbiased, to censor and limit themselves because of others, or because of the society - where is the end goal?? How can we ever reach any end goal?
I appreciate all of your words. I really do. Thank you for clarifying, and I appreciate that we are able to have a civilized discussion.

Call me a "snowflake" but I DO believe that there are some ways we should take extra steps to ensure that our words don't hurt others. As far as what you quoted from me, I don't necessarily expect people to ALWAYS take those steps, but rather consider the implications behind what they said and how some people could have construed them. I should have made this clearer, but my intention when I said "I don't want to make this about race, but..." was NOT to call out anyone in particular or accuse everyone who was critical towards Simone of being racist. Rather, it was a thought that came to my mind that I wanted to share, and hoped that people would simply just take into consideration.

I was in general infuriated with anyone who was criticizing Simone for her decision--that particular infuriation did not have anything to do with race or possible racial implications, but something I felt a personal connection to as a former gymnast who has struggled with anxiety and other mental health issues my entire life. I don't want to go into a discussion now about why it makes me enraged that ANYONE would criticize any aspect of Simone's decision to focus on her mental health, because we would be here all day. But just know, that everything I said was coming from a general infuriation of Simone's criticizers.

The reason I brought up the "race thing" was because I was hoping her criticizers (who again, I was mad at from a mental health perspective) would maybe consider why they felt that way towards her. Did I think EVERYONE who was criticizing her had racist implications? Absolutely not. But as someone who has come from a family and community that has STRONGLY prioritized and valued mental health care and openness about feelings, it made me really think about why anyone could criticize her for such a hard decision to make. And I think you make some good points about why people may feel that way that have nothing to do with race--i.e. the "we need to win" mentality. Her race, however, WAS a possible factor that came into my mind and I was hoping people would at least consider or examine when looking back at their criticisms of her decisions--why do they feel that way about the decision she made?

The problem that happens is when people (I'm not talking about you in particular FYI) become defensive and say that it was unnecessary to bring up race in the first place. That, for me, signals that they have a problem with considering how what they said may perpetuate harmful stereotypes. If someone really were to believe that Simone's race had nothing to do with their opinion, I would hope that they would respond along the lines of "I don't personally feel that way, and I wasn't considering her race in my criticisms of her. Can you tell me why it appears that way when I criticize her? Are there implications that I don't know about?"

I'm not saying that everyone has to take extra steps to be sensitive, as you point out--I don't believe that we constantly need to be walking on eggshells! However, I feel that when you critique someone's character or personal decisions--i.e., the decision Simone made which could not have been easy for her in the slightest--you do have to realize that other people--myself included-- may wonder why you're thinking that way. In that case, I am not criticizing you for not recognizing that there may be racial impact to your words in the first place, but rather that when I bring up an example of societal oppression, you accept that your words COULD have come across that way--especially when you are critiquing a woman for making a very personal decision that I do not think was worthy of any backlash in the first place.

I hope you can see where I am coming from. Remember, I don't mean any of these words towards you, but rather where my anger comes from regarding these criticisms in the first place!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Geoffrey Taucer

ldw4mlo

Proud Parent
Feb 13, 2015
6,432
62
I’m still trying to figure out what about race-gymnastics is meant to be discussed? Is there a specific point in there somewhere.

3 out of the 4 team members are women of color. My daughter is one of 5 kids of color on her 6 person optional team.

Are there still dumba$s racists out there, of course.

Since this was an offshoot from the Simone thread I assume folks want to know if her race matters, yes, of course. Freaking awesome to see a woman of color who is the GOAT. To answer the infered question (s) carried over from the other thread. Is she judged more harshly because of her color. Can only answer for myself. First, they are my opinions, not judgement, she is still the GOAT and she is absolutely entitled to take care of herself. I never said differently, regardless of my opinion on how things were handled in a specific situation. Next, My opinion would be the same of any professional person in the public eye no matter their color. And lastly, And I’ll not be adding/commenting more regarding the Olympic/Simone situation and race discussions as these discussions never end well and are best left to IRL conversation. Of which I have many, in my daily life.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

New Posts