This incident has caused many on social networking to question if what is known as "white privilege" came into play. Many on Twitter stated some people are making excuses for the criminal behavior of 32-year-old swimmer Ryan Lochte because he is a "white male" while African-American female gymnast, Gabby Douglas, broke no law in Rio, yet has been mercilessly and inappropriately slammed by select individuals on social networking over her hair being frizzy and not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem.
In 2012, I wrote about the unjustifiable, race based, verbal and written abuse some directed at Gabby, who was only 16-years-old at the time. People made racist comments about her hair being kinky and compared her to a monkey, a racial term when applied to blacks (it means idiocy and mimicking when applied to whites). Some people came back and did this mess again 4-years later slamming her during the 2016 Olympics as well.
It has to be dispiriting for an athlete to be so cruelly criticized while representing their nation, when they are doing the best they can. When there are racial undertones and overtones, it's even worse. That's probably why she didn't put her hand over her heart during the anthem and has looked depressed during the games. You're out there representing your country and your getting cruelly insulted online by select racist individuals over your naturally frizzy hair (by the way, there's nothing wrong with her hair).
Some people need to do better on social networking. And sadly, though many Americans sent supportive comments to Gabby on social networking, select people posted hateful, racist things and Gabby's mother stated her daughter saw them online and became dejected. Douglas is an accomplished, pretty young woman and deserves respect for the discipline she has mastered and representing her country. 99.9% of the population did not make it to the Olympics as Olympians (and people better be glad I didn't make it on the gymnastics balance beam, because disaster would have struck LOL #BlackWomanDown)
Tweets from Twitter.com on the scandal:
White Male Privilege Is Why We Laugh At Lochte And Vilify Douglas
Pay close attention to the words being used to describe them
08/18/2016 04:15 pm ET - Ryan Lochte and Gabby Douglas: A tale of two Olympic “scandals.” Gymnast Gabby Douglas “disrespected” her entire country by not putting her hand on her heart and smiling enough during the Olympics. Swimmer Ryan Lochte is a “kid” who deserves “a break” for allegedly destroying property and lying about a traumatic robbery. If you were wondering what white, male privilege looks like, this is it.
Insulting how Gabby Douglas(20) was being told she needs to fix her attitude in Rio, but #LochteGate and crew are all “kids” who got rowdy. — Lea (@_MissLeandra) August 18, 2016.
To back up: On Sunday, it was reported that Lochte and three other U.S. swimmers were robbed at gunpoint in Rio, with specifics of the robbery coming from Lochte himself and his mother, Ileana Lochte. Since then, multiple pieces of evidence have emerged that suggest the story was fabricated, something that Lochte’s teammates Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger reportedly confirmed to Brazilian authorities after being detained in the country. (Basically, it seems that an international incident may have started over the fact that Lochte didn’t want to admit to his mother that he and his friends had drunkenly caused damage to a gas station bathroom, and then gotten into a belligerent altercation with the security guard.)
The general reaction to what has been dubbed #LochteGate was initial confusion, a lot of spot-on jokes, and eventually a measured dose of criticism and a plea from Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada to “give these kids a break” because “sometimes you take actions that you later regret.”
It didn’t take long for people to point to the cognitive dissonance between the compassionate, light-hearted response to Lochte, Bentz, Conger and fourth swimmer Jimmy Feigen’s drunken actions, and the widespread online vilification gymnast Gabby Douglas experienced just a week prior.
Douglas, who is just 20 years old, failed to put her hand on her heart during the national anthem, and did not style her hair and/or face to every individual’s liking. For those “crimes,” she was widely criticized for being “disprespectful,” “unpatriotic” and “un-American,” and called words that we’d rather not repeat in this piece. Lochte and friends reportedly defiled a gas station restroom, fought with a security officer, lied to national news sources, and may have filed a false police report. And the four of them get to be framed as talented “kids” (reminder: Lochte is 32) having one debaucherous night of fun...
Gabby Douglas was destroyed for hand placement. He pisses on a business and blames a country, and people are making excuses. #LochteGate — Anthony Dominic (@tmzanthony) August 18, 2016
Gabby was verbally stoned on social media for not putting her hand over her heart but people are making excuses for #LochteGate — Joshua Thicklin (@JoshThicklin53) August 18, 2016
is it just me or did people seem a lot more upset about Gabby Douglas not raising her hand to pledge than Ryan Lochte lying to police? — #1 Rachel (@rachel) August 18, 2016
Let me gets this straight - Gabby Douglas hates America but #LochteGate was just a bunch of kids having fun? Hmmmm — Sade Diana Sellers (@sadesellers) August 18, 2016
This isn’t to say that Lochte and his teammates should be publicly vilified. But when the benefit of the doubt is given freely to white men when they mess up ― even in cases like this one where they actually may have broken the law ― and yet withheld from others, it perpetuates entrenched systems of racism and sexism.
What if Lochte had been a woman (of any race) who falsely accused a man of robbing and attacking her? If Ryan Lochte lied about that robbery, how can we ever believe any man’s allegations of robbery? — WendyBrandes (@WendyBrandes) August 18, 2016
What if Lochte had been a man of color? If Black athletes pulled that #LochteGate stunt, the headlines would read “Black Lives Matter Thugs Caused Terror At The Olympics” — Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) August 18, 2016
These “what ifs” are important, and the resulting thought experiments are telling. White men exist in a world that prioritizes their potential, gives them the benefit of the doubt and assumes their actions are mostly benevolent ― or at the very least, harmless. Women, especially women of color, don’t have that luxury. Just ask Gabby Douglas.