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Gabriell Douglas' Hair-Raising Experience

Guest Columnist | , Julianne Malveaux | 8/8/2012, 4:09 p.m.

More than two of three African American men, then, do not have work, yet this statistic is rarely discussed. In contrast, the employment-population ration for White men was 68.4 percent, a full 10 percentage points higher than the rate for Black men. Timothy Douglas is employed, and he is, indeed, defending our country. Why is his presence or absence at the Olympic games subject to mean-spirited discussion, when it is clear that he supports his daughter?

It is easy to suggest that the Tea Party attacks on President Barack Obama have made it "open season" on Black people among the commemtariat. And certainly, coverage of the president and his family has been rife with stereotypes. Still, Tea Party attacks can't explain the ways that some African American women have talked about Gabrielle Douglas' hair. In the face of caustic comments about Black people from outsiders, must we turn on ourselves?

The only thing I want to hear about Gabrielle Douglas is how amazing her victory was, and how inspirational she will be for other young women. All of America ought to celebrate this victory because Ms. Douglas brought the gold home, not for herself, but for our nation. The stereotypes are simply unacceptable, whether African Americans or Whites are wallowing in them.

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.