Black Women Make a Huge Mark on the Olympics

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by Dr. Boyce Watkins, BlackLikeMoi.com

Some have speculated on whether this has been the Olympics for women.  Women are competing in record numbers, and they’ve also hogged up as many headlines as the men.  But if this has been the Olympics for women, black women have been driving the bus and dominating, much more so than the guys.

The US women’s 4×400 meter relay finished up the astonishing feet of the 4×100 meter relay by simply demolishing the competition.   The 3.36 second margin of victory was the largest since 1976.  Allyson Felix, who also participated in the world record-shattering 4×100 meter relay, ran on the 4×400 meter relay as well.  This shows tremendous diversity in her sprinting ability and makes her one of the most decorated female sprinters in the history of the world.

Allyson Felix became the first US woman to win three gold medals since 1988, when Florence Griffith-Joyner did the same thing.  Starting in her first Olympics at the age of 18, the 26- year old Felix has quite a few years to go.  It is also unknown to most that Felix nearly medaled in the 100 meters, placing fifth place in that event.  Her split time of 47.8 seconds in the 400 meters also means that she could have easily competed in that event too.

When you add the feats of the women’s relays, Allyson Felix in the 200 meters, Gabby Douglas in gymnastics and Claressa Shields’ domination in women’s boxing, it’s hard not to argue that black women haven’t left their mark on these Olympics.   Other athletes have done a wonderful job, but the “sistuhs” have shown up in full force.

The dominance of black female athletes, as well as striking images of perfectly toned abs and beautiful ebony smiles, inspires most of us to get to the gym and find our real bodies underneath all of that cozy soul food cushion we’ve collected over the years.  It also speaks volumes to those who think that trips to the hair dresser should supersede the importance of remaining physically fit.  Almost none of the women with gold medals around their necks were thinking about  how their hair looked before the competition.  Instead, they were simply focused on being the best that they could be.

As the father of three girls who were all outstanding track and field athletes, I can appreciate the hard work and discipline it took for these women to become the remarkable human beings that they’ve become.  In high school, I was captain of my track team, and I once coached the West Side Track Club in my hometown of Louisville, Ky.  My love for the sport has allowed me to see up close how sports can transform lives and work wonders in building the self-esteem of our young people.  Our community’s esteem also elevates as we witness the heroics of these black female gladiators from 5,000 miles away.

These women not only push us all to do better when it comes to personal health, but they inspire our community as well.  Way to go ladies, we’re proud of you.  You also represent the very best that our country has to offer.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.



41 Comment

  1. Other athletes have done a wonderful job, but the “sistuhs” have shown up in full force. #SISTUHSGOTGOLD

  2. Dr. Watkins, do not limit yourself by say Black Women. You can use the term African American women. When I introduced the term in the 1987 Black History Calendar, I defined it as "The children of the descendants of the African Diaspora in the Western Hemisphere", which also includes Jamaica.

    • go lay down and take another nap

  3. and got the bodies to back it.
    go ahead now!
    my sistas!

  4. them black bitches rock!

  5. way to go ladies.

  6. Blacks continue to carry this thankless country with our genius, our talents and our attempts to embue some spiritual fortitude upon the moral compass of this racist, sexist and classist regime.

    Now let’s see what rewards these beautiful ladies Gabby, Venus, Serena, Clarissa, Allyson and the many others get in terms of sponsorship deals, talk show invites, post news coverage, etc.

    And we must give our props to the black male champs too. But when will it start to be about an end to slavery, albeit modern day slavery, as it is very, very clear that blacks do a heck of a lot of giving and continually receive nothing but abuse, degradation, marginalization, incarceration, humiliation and dehumanization and assassination from this sick nation.

    Yes, its all take and no give, except for grief, that is the reward of the builders and perpetual saviors and redeemers of this thankless land of pseudo-democracy. Continuous oppression, that is the reward.

    • thanks, Joia, you’re always spot on.

    • Our recognition only comes when are achievements make the U.S. look good around the world. These individual and collective achievement will always be regarded as a U.S. win. Otherwise, we don’t get any recognition except for crime statistics and incarceration rates. LOL

    • Dr Boyce, I didn’t know you were from Louisville, so am I, now I feel even closer to you.

      You did not mention all of the outstanding Black women athletes but you also did not mention the other women in the diaspora, the Jamaicans in particular and the Ethiopians.

      Black women were a sleeping giant, rudely awakened and now are on the move!!

  7. Kudos to you Brotha Watkins! It is undeniable that the SISTARS showed up and represented! love how you interjected the piece at the end about US as a race being challenged and encouraged to improve our OVERALL personal health after seeing these SISTARS and BROTHAS display to the entire world BODIES of GOLD! Now let me not deceive anyone about health and bodies…….. being healthy does not mean having Olympic bodies (great if you do) but good personal health is obtainable and WE as a people need to pay much more attention to this area of our lives. We should organize/mobilize health programs using these Olympics as a springboard. In all actually, health is only one area that we can exploit from these Olympians for organizing/mobilizing our communities for the GREATER GOOD. Whenever we can, let us put OUR Olympic winners on the circuit in neighborhoods where they are needed the most. The mileage is endless (with a little creativity) as to what we can extract from the momentous occasion.


  9. Dr. Watkins you forget to mention the great fish from Brooklyn Lia Neal who helped her teammates Missy Franklin and company capture a bronze medal in the 4×100 Meter Freestyle Relay in swimming.
    African women throughout the Diaspora have distinguished themselves at the 2012 Olympic Games.

  10. In response to Johnny’s response as to whether Dr. Boyd limits his description of African American women to black. My thoughts are that these terms are equivalent in the U.S. African American women will always be described as black regardless of all the politically correct terms we apply to them. Although we change ethnic labels every other 20 years or so, we always come back to what description? Black.

    The term African American will be obsolete within two decades. I’m just interested in knowing what’s next. Despite this, we should be rejoicing for the achievements these young ladies have made, rather than quibbling over interchangeable terms that adequately describe our race. I think this point was irrelevant to the discussion.

  11. Congratulations to the ladies of the Olympics. Not only are they gifted athletically, they are educated and command a confidence that should inspire all black women as role models. Their stars have just begun to shine.

  12. African American Women continue to be champions and great in the tradition of : Cleopatra-Nefertitis-Hatsheput-NZhinga-Wilma Rudolph-Flo Jo etc. You are all “Pure Gold” Everlasting “Shinning Stars” ,as EW&F would sing

  13. Why are you censuring my comments? You don’t accept positive/progressive/inspirational words!

  14. America is such a strange nation. given our history, their his-tory, to is a miracle that we have not committed suicide. That is what happened in the Jamestown incident and James Jones. I am pleased that so many young men and women who may be consider themselves Black or African-American, have traveled to London. Except for the military, many of their ancestors never left the USA. So, take pleasure in the accomplishment.

    My Olympic moment was 1960. A Black or African-American Army officer tried to get me to come with him to Morgan State University and train. I chose to go back to the streets and sit around drinking wine. Les Carney was to leave the Army and train. He wona silver metal in the 200 sprint. It could have been me.

  15. Although I believe Women Period..Dominated the Olympics, I particularly love the last paragraph. Do you know how….not ignorant, but those stupid nasty comments set us back as a culture? While you sittin up there gettin your hair did in your size 14 spandex outfit that's most likely still 2 sizes too small, you most likely contributed to the hurt that may have caused Ms. Gabby two more medals. Now, g

  16. And we not even mentioning the William sisters.


  18. Yes, black women showed up and showed out at the Olympics. But how could you leave out Serena Williams, who won her first individual gold medal at the Olympics?

  19. The black women represented black America wherefore black America dominated at the Olympics.

  20. What about Sanya Richards-Ross? She was a gold medalist as well! And if we go outside of the USA, Shelly-Ann Frasier-Pryce of Jamaica, Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia both won gold in their events as well.

  21. Can we leave race out of something for once? And just enjoy the moment that our country as a whole did well. And yes I love and am very proud of my strong Black sisters, but lets save this for another day.

  22. All too true – and these girls will eat up and spit out any man they make love to, as well.

  23. All too true – and these girls will eat up and spit out any man they make love to, as well – can’t wait.

  24. Can a man date woman and she has children but yet he leaves your children out of the equation?

    When candidates run for office do they leave their wives behind?

    Therefore black women have black men and black children wherefore they represent Black America and not only themselves.

    You can’t overlook race in the race because race matters. Long live Black America.

  25. This article was so needed. Thanks for writing. Thanks for highlighting their accomplishment and their health and fitness commitment. Hopefully, we can begin to have more conversations about the dedication to athletic achievement, better food options, BLACK female dignity, and the better option of a non-chemical hair-do. I love me some athletic women…Mercy So damn fine!

    • I am praying that black people HIGHLIGHT these young women…use them as THE EXAMPLE. I pray black people move away from glorifying these trifling women that are featured on the 'reality' shows. They are SUCH a BAD example for our girls, and their behavior on screen creates a destructive mindset for black boys…the boys grow-up to believe and later treat black women like what they (the black women) project: Disrespect. Pray with me. Pray with me. This is an opportunity! Seize it!!

  26. Joia, that is crap!

    Slavery is a mind trap! If you consider your self a slave it is your own fault! We have more opportunity here in America than any place else in the world or any other people in the world! You just keep on keeping it real, and dwelling on events of nearly 200 years ago and see where it gets you!

    more $ has be spent in an effort to educate, baby sit, feed, provide housing, free phones, help with utilities, name it, we can get it. Our kids can dance and sing, but cant read or write! Immigrants speak the English language better than a lot of us.

    I’m saying you can not blame all of the negative in your world on everyone else

    marginalization (do you have something positive to contribute), incarceration (are you implying that all are free of a crime and should be released?), humiliation ( who in the world has not experienced it?) and dehumanization ( and when we yell out, hey my nigga whats up aren’t we doing just that) and assassination ( most everyday in my city it is a black taking the life of another black person, so who is really doing the assassinations?) sick nation ( so is it the nation that is sick, or is it us?).

    When we blacks win gold in Economic’s, Business, Science, Medical, Engineering and become real political leader not just puppets who get into office because of black majority in the districts, then we will gain the respect that is lacking

    The ladies and gentlemen who represented the USA were great! That however will pass until the next Olympic’s, some of them will make millions some won’t that’s the way it goes.
    You get a chance to make it big, not a guarantee!

  27. The list is incomplete. I would love to see a complete list of the Black women who medalled, with pics of course.


  29. I'm a little disappointed to see that this was limited in scope only to recognize the achievements of the African women on America, leaving out the entire Diaspora of African women who, for their part, also took centerstage during the 2012 games. American exceptionalism at its finest. I suppose, if I properly infer from the title, only those Africans living in America, or rather competing for America, are considered black. Remember that Richards-Ross has parentage that most recently hail from Jamaica. Nevertheless, we are one people, one African Diaspora. Better you blog about how many Africans medaled at these games. It would be a much more wholesome article for the spirit. But do give thanks that you have bigged up my sisters nonetheless.

  30. Ladies! Ladies! Ladies! Ladies!
    Ya did us proud.

    • The First Lady and Gabby Douglas on Jay Leno Show tonight.

  31. These sisters definitely deserve our appreciation and are well deserving of celebration, especially in light of the criticisms levelled at Gabby Douglas and Serena Williams. They were unnecessary and sad.

    It’s time that we come to the defense of our own, especially when they did nothing wrong and everything right!

  32. Surely you could have extended the black women dominance to include all of the sisters and not merely the Afro American sisters.

    • Please check your inbox

  33. Congratulations! To all of the Olympics Contestants! Especially our African Americans, Jamaicans, who are descended from Africa, Kenya and African Americans in Briitain. They Were Awesome, They Owned The Olympics!! Great Job, You All Represented!!

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