Rio’s Olympics battling against racism still to this day

by mariontomlinson on September 12, 2016 - 11:08pm

Today, I will talk about the very sad truth of black individuals and their success; more specifically the case of Gabby Douglas and her harsh adventure to Rio’s 2016 Olympic Games. Jared Diamond mentions in his article that it is impossible to identify an individual through any human races, due to such problems with racial classification (Diamond, Winter, 5).

We talk about Gabby Douglas’ skin color being the problem, however anthropologists have come to a conclusion that it is not possible to recognize human races at all (Diamond, Winter, 5). ’’ Yet, we still face the case of racism all around the world; even at the most attended international sporting event, the Olympics. This is the majority groups fault; as we may see in the class notes, race is a social construct we created by society.

The 2012 all-around champion in gymnastics, Gabby Douglas was dramatically criticized for her appearance, her behaviour and to the behaviour people expected her to have (Santos, Summer, 21). But, the famous swimmer, Michael Phelps got away with funny memes and no negative comments towards the face he made during a pre-competition. I, personally think he would have faced many problems, like Douglas, if the skin colour was to be anything, but white. They would have been grouped together if we based race out of another physical characteristics, by example; eye colour. They both have brown eyes therefore none of this would have occurred if race was based on the eye colour rather than skin colour. This is what Diamond’s main point is that these classifications are only useful in order to classify human races.

The fact that Diamond’s article was written back in 1994, still makes it very relevant today, the issue is still the same. The classification of humans is still used for the same reason; to differentiate the ‘’us’’ from them (Diamond, Winter, 6).

Since Diamond demonstrates that racial classification through any trait is very vague and leaves people out, in my opinion, the idea of identifying us through any genetic trait should have never even existed. Don’t we have names? Why identify ourselves through specific trait while we could just all see each other as humans with different names. And regarding the Olympics, due to the problems occurring like Douglas’, should we ban the Games in order to decrease these conflicts?

Diamond, J. (2016, Winter). Race Without Color. In A. Nouvet (Ed). Anthropology 381-101-LA: The Myth of Race and the Reality of Racism. Saint-Lambert, QC: Champlain.
Santos, A.A. (2016, Summer). Rio 2016: Gabby Douglas’s Olympics experience fits the pattern of how we treat black female athletes. Vox. Retrieved from


I love how you connected your Anthropology article to a current event. Giving the issue context in such a way that not only provided evidence for your argument, but made it easy to visualize and understand. I was able to fully grasp your point. With so much support and nationalism associated with the olympic games, I think it is vital that you pointed out racism still plays a role, even within the same team. The issues associated with racial classification that you illustrated made me start thinking, was I subject to making these same assumptions?

Your point about “brown eyes” really connected with me and I thought it was a very smart way to illustrate that racism is all dependent on how society defines race. It can be skin or eye color it doesn't matter. This example made me think about how trivial race can be and is an idea I will definitely be thinking about when I interact with people in the future. I know I have never made an assumption about someone based on their eye color, while as much as I hate to admit it, I have done based on skin color -- even if it was subconscious. Your real world connections and examples made relating to your post easy! However I did find your question at the end to be a little intense, is banning the games the only option? Could you provide evidence or elaborate on that point in order to create more support?

I was drawn into this post because it discusses the issue of racism by citing a well-publicized event. I, like many people, was shocked at the treatment Gabby Douglas received before and after the Rio games. I agree that racism was to blame, as other athletes (like Phelps) were not subjected to the same kind of treatment. I don’t think that it is necessary to ban the Games in order to decrease this kind of hateful rhetoric. That would be like accepting defeat and just avoiding the conflict. Instead, I think that we need to change our way of thinking (as human beings) and stop focusing on a person’s race or appearance. I think that we need to stop being so critical and start respecting other human beings regardless of what they look like.

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