Chicago Sun-Times columnist fixated on Gabby Douglas' race

Shame on you, Mary Mitchell. Gabby Douglas' win is a victory for all Americans, not just some. Photo: Associated Press

CHICAGO, August 8, 2012 — For the last two weeks, Americans watching the Olympics have been especially proud of our American women’s gymnastic team. They scored team gold, and this week triple flipped their way to gold, silver, and bronze in individual events, winning America’s hearts in the process.

Aly Raisman was poised during and after her nail-bitter of a victory on beam for bronze, and she was simply wonderful in her gold-medal performance on floor exercise. It was a well-deserved win for an often underappreciated young athlete. 

America was dazzled by Gabby Douglas during the women’s all-around last week, and justifiably proud that she won the coveted gold medal. Her teammates have affectionately dubbed Gabby “the flying squirrel,” and watching her soar into the Olympic stratosphere has been inspiring indeed.

In addition to being a superstar athlete, Gabby just seems like a good-natured kid.

But, if you read Mary Mitchell’s columns in the Chicago Sun-Times, and aren’t African American, you might feel as if you aren’t supposed to have been inspired by Gabby’s victory.

Mary Mitchell

“She [Gabby Douglas] flew high enough to smash barriers and shine a light that other young African-American girls can see,” scribed Mitchell recently in her front page Chicago Sun-Times story in praise of Douglas.

What if a white gymnast had won instead and I had written:

“She flew high enough to shine a light that other white girls can see.”

I would have been branded a racist.

Mitchell’s focus, as a writer, is the African American perspective; in fact, most of her columns are fixated on race and racial sleights in Chicago. But this is nothing new. Journalists are encouraged to focus on the race, gender, or sexual orientation in their reporting.  

Next came Mitchell’s obligatory reference to President Obama:

“In the age of President Obama, many of us don’t like to talk about “firsts” and “only.” But long before a black person soars in any field, a lot of other African Americans have had to spread their wings. Because of Douglas’ amazing performance in London, a lot of ordinary black girls in a lot of ordinary neighborhoods won’t be afraid to try.”

Liberal journalists like Mitchell try to mention Obama’s name as often as they can, even where it has no place. What the heck does Obama have to do with gymnastics? Unless you are referring to his countless flip flops on issues, Obama wouldn’t have even medaled in the all-around. 

But Mitchell isn’t the only one with a race fixation. Too many reporters are obsessed with the fact that Gabby Douglas is African American.

Or that black women apparently don’t like the way Gabby does her hair - another subject of Mary Mitchell’s racial fixation this week.

Or criticizing NBC for, apparently, exhibiting “bad judgment” in running a TV ad spot for Animal Practice” after Gabby’s victory – a spot that has been in rotation since the beginning of the Olympics.

By my definition, a “racist” is someone who only sees the world through the prism of race. Only a true “racist” would still connect a funny TV spot with a monkey on gymnastic rings with Gabby Douglas.

There are millions of examples of words and ideas that offend somebody, somewhere. We all need to take a deep breath on race for a change. 

Yes, African American girls should be inspired by Gabby Douglas, but so should girls of every other race and ethnicity. Aly Raisman is Jewish. Can ordinary African American girls in ordinary neighborhoods be inspired by her as well? Or are they only allowed to be inspired by someone who looks exactly like them?

Isn’t the point of the Olympics, a celebration of national American pride and identity?

So why do we continue to make a point of focusing on differences instead of the things that we, as Americans, share?

The cultural elite in the media and entertainment industries are responsible for continuing to separate people on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and, most recently, immigration status.

The Democratic Party is responsible for creating those divisions as well. It is in their great interest to do so.

Separating Americans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and immigration status might just be Obama’s only chance to score White House gold this time around.

Shame on you, Ms. Mitchell. Shame on all of you. 

Conservative commentator and satirist William J. Kelly is also a contributor to and edits the Tea Party Reports for the Washington Times Communities. He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

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Read more of Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad in The Communities at the Washington Times

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William Kelly


Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit

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