The Miscalculation of the Black Woman

Her Own Beat’s Note: I wrote this article the night that Simone Manuel won her Olympic gold medal. I wanted to post this immediately, but I had submitted for publication  so I had to wait. It has been more than two weeks, but I believe that essence of this article still rings true.


As a purveyor of all things epitomizing #BlackGirlMagic, I am surrounded by greatness—in reality and virtually. In fact, I believe that women like First Lady Michelle Obama, Shonda Rhimes, Amandla Stenberg, Ava DuVernay, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are all my girls.

While watching the Rio 2016 Olympics this week, I have been blessed with my shared of #BlackGirlMagic on Team USA with members such as Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Lia Neal, and Simone Manuel. All of these women have made history within their individual sports, but their coverage has not been equal. Unfortunately, for one, there was a major miscalculation that so many black women experience—the underestimation of our skill and talent.

As I was watching NBC Olympics before the women’s 100-meter freestyle, NBC Olympics decided to air a package about the Campbell Sisters from Australia. Interesting…sure. If you blinked, however, you may not have realized that there was a woman from Team USA swimming. Manuel is a black woman and a two-time NCAA women’s swimming champion. Did I mention that she broke the American record at the 2015 NCAA championship? Yet, it seemed like NBC Olympics was more concerned about showing baby pictures of Cate and Bronte Campbell and trying to figure out if they would get the gold and silver. The USA’s own, Manuel, seemed like an afterthought.

Sometimes, however, being an afterthought is the best way to win. Neither Campbell Sister placed, but Manuel made history. She was the first African-American woman to win an individual event in Olympic swimming. The commentators may have been in shock, but Manuel’s joy was overwhelming when she realized that she had tied for gold. I cried with her as she ran and hugged her coach. I cried again as that single tear could not stop streaming down her cheek as our national anthem played during the medal ceremony.

For NBC, unfortunately, it seems like Simone Manuel was more of a non-factor. She was treated like just another black woman. Yet, Manuel, like so many black women showed her #BlackGirlMagic. She swam the race of her life with poise and power; style and strength; grace and greatness. Black women are not some complex area of mathematics where an underestimation is probable. We are not a calculus problem in which you compute our limits…for we are limitless.

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24 thoughts on “The Miscalculation of the Black Woman

  1. kristinakoti says:

    A beautiful touching piece. I understand your point, and I stand for women’s right in general, despite race, nationality, background etc.
    I hope I got things right in your article, but maybe she wasn’t left in the shadow just because of her skin color, therefore underestimating her talent. (honestly even better, she showed the world what she is made of). Success is the best tool to make haters shut up 😀
    So back to the topic, maybe the media had some other hidden agenda with the Australia sisters or something.
    I know what discrimination is. I am a girl and I am Albanian, which to the rest of Europe is some low trash country and Albanians are not very welcomed around and do not get the best treatment. I work in a company with foreigners, and in my own country I am discriminated for my nationality and also because I am a girl, I can’t possibly be better than a man. It’s all very well hidden and covered but it’s still there.
    Sorry for my long comment.
    I really loved your post 🙂

  2. Liz Mays says:

    I think this is an important piece. These subtle forms of discrimination are what a lot of people don’t notice. Once you start seeing it, you realize it’s everywhere.

    • Her Own Beat says:

      Agreed…many times I think the subtle forms are worse because they are harder to decipher. You sit there second guessing yourself when you know all along it just doesn’t feel right.

  3. Elizabeth O. says:

    This is a little heartbreaking, the media controls what the people see especially if it’s far from home. She deserves all the recognition for being there and for making her country proud. it’s so disappointing that she had to go through this kind of treatment.

  4. Amanda Love says:

    You think we’ve come a long way and yet we fail to see things like this. She’s an amazing athlete and she is just as passionate as the other in the team. I really feel bad that she was intentionally neglected just because of her skin’s color.

  5. Katarzyna says:

    She did a great job winning the gold and deserves a lot of respect! It’s very easy to miss these subtle signs of discrimination, I don’t think I’d notice it!

  6. lex says:

    dont know where to start from because things like this brings back alot of talk on the issue of skin colour. she deserves more than this and i hope she gets even a better recognition..

  7. DecoPix (@TiinaTibs) says:

    Absolutely awful and extremely sad. I didn’t think this kind of discrimination could exist any more – just wouldn’t have come to my mind. We are living in a modern world where you hear that we are all equal, but it just isn’t so true.

  8. nbosken says:

    Yeah I wish she had been given more recognition. It is quite a feat for sure. I really hate all the racism that still exists. Many people are still too narrow minded and ignorant.

    Nina
    aworldofdresses.com

  9. Lily says:

    Simone biles was flipping amazing. And im a huge fan of Gabby Douglas. It shouldn’t matter what age colour race or nationality you are. If you’re good at what you do… you deserve recognition.

  10. Milton Coyne says:

    She may not get the recognition or even the respect from media that she truly deserves but she get all the respect to all the people who witness her success! May she continue to inspire many people and prove that success has nothing to do with race, gender, or any labels!

  11. Bella says:

    This was a very well written post. With the Olympics putting people in the spotlight, we are able to see how differently the media treats athletes based on race and gender.

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