By James Breedlove
The newest America’s Sweetheart, Gabrielle Douglas, was not afforded time to savor her magnificent Olympic accomplishments before having to contend with the burdensome weight of the potential political and social ramifications of being an Olympic champion.
The 16 year-old gymnastic star from Virginia Beach, VA and West Des Moines, IA is not only the first African-American to win gold in the women’s individual all-around gymnastics competition, but is also the first American gymnast to win gold medals in both the individual and team events at the same Olympics.
Yet, at this significant moment in Gabby’s young life, the nation cannot let her bask in the sunshine of her achievement without regurgitating imagery of America’s onerous fixation with racism and sexism.
Gabby’s journey from Virginia Beach, where she was described as a good gymnast with great potential, to 2012 London Olympic champion is well documented. But the true political and social lessons to be culled from Gabby’s experience, especially the move to West Des Moines, have only been mentioned in fairy tale fashion. The potential that her life template has for resolving residual racism and social division issues has been overlooked.
First, how a white family (Parton) and a black family (Hawkins) came together to discuss the mutual benefits and risks of working together to polish a diamond in the rough (Gabby).
Second, how both families mentored and polished the rough diamond to discover its inherent beauty, character, charisma, strength, tenacity, self- esteem and worth.
Third, how each family opened itself to core growth and expanded mutual understanding by intimately sharing their diversity and gaining a synergistic advantage.
In the end both families validated that by working together they could achieve an objective that would have been statistically impossible to achieve alone.
The net result of the two families’ mutual cooperation, jointly sharing responsibility for a common objective, and utilizing available resources (Coach Liang Chow) was the rough diamond (Gabby) became a crown jewel that not only accomplished her childhood dream but also brought honor and glory to both families and to America.
A yet to be realized benefit is the Parton siblings are going to have an excellent foundation for success in a multi-cultural, multi-racial society because of their participation in the Hawkins-Parton partnership.
It does not take rocket science or genius intelligence to translate the methodology implemented by the Hawkins and Parton families into a universal template that could revive a stagnating America at the federal, state, local and individual level if partisanship, racism, negativism, egotism, personal agendas, and greed could be subordinated to the mutually advantageous “greater good”.
Quantifying the lifetime success of the Hawkins-Parton partnership will be an ongoing endeavor, however, the interim data from both Gabby’s Olympic gymnastics performance and her post- performance news conferences portend exceptional results.
In her gold medal performances Gabby flew higher, wobbled less on dismounts, and showed incredible athleticism that made even her difficult routines look easy. She started her rotations by landing the extremely complex Amanar vault — which includes one flip and two and a half twists — and never relinquished the lead. Her role in the Hawkins-Parton partnership taught her to be focused, confident and comfortable with adversity.
At the news conference following the gold medal presentation Gabby’s charm and demeanor had the international cadre of reporters spell bound. Her responses to two of the questions illustrate this.
When asked if she watched the scoreboard at any time prior to the final results being revealed Gabby flashed her megawatt smile for a few seconds before responding.
She then admitted she couldn’t resist peeping. She stated in a moderately apologetic tone, “A few times even though Coach Chow advised me not to. After the vault.” She then paused and began to giggle sheepishly while adding, “And bars. And beam. And floor.” Then she finished the response by explaining, “I’m sorry, I had to see”.
The entire room erupted in laughter–entranced by her youthful vulnerability– after the reporter chided, “You broke Coach’s rule?” They were putty in her hands for the remainder of the press conference.
“What about the pressure? Do you embrace the pressure”, a reporter asked?
“Pressure is not bad”, she said. “Pressure means Game On. Can you do it or not. Pressure makes you do greater and better things. It hypes me up. It pumps me up. It makes me want to stick every landing and make sharp movements to get as many tenths as possible. Pressure helps motivate me.”
“It was just an amazing feeling,” she said, giggling. “I was just like, believe, don’t fear, believe. I just wanted to seize the moment. You have to learn how to enjoy the moment.”
America, it’s time to seize the moment by embracing the Hawkins-Parton philosophy.
Comments or opinions may be sent to James W. Breedlove at: www.truthclinic.com.