Gabby Douglas draws fire for racism claim

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Has Gabby Douglas gone from America’s sweetheart to America’s lightning rod?

The Olympic gold medalist is under fire after she said in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that she was the victim of racism at the gym where she trained in Virginia Beach.

She told Winfrey about one incident in which a teammate at Excalibur Gymnastics told her to do something because she was their slave.

“I definitely felt isolated,” Douglas said in the interview. “I felt, ‘Why do I deserve this? Is it because I’m black?’ ”

Her former coach and others associated with Excalibur blasted the claim.

“Really, I was shocked and very hurt,” former coach Dena Walker told NewsChannel 3 in Hampton Roads.

Gustavo Moure, CEO of Excalibur, went even further, suggesting that Douglas was lying.

“I wish to defend the children that trained with her and supported her when she attacks them with these allegations,” he told E! News. “Is Gabrielle a credible person just because she is an Olympic champion? She is not giving any names or dates, leading us to believe that the accusation is fake.”

“Gabby’s remarks were hurtful and without merit,” he told GymNewstics.com. “We’ve had more African-Americans in elite and on the national team than any other gym in the country.”

Former teammates also blasted her.

“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Randy Stageburg, a former National Team member, told GymNewstics.com. “Gabby was never a victim, in fact many would say she was one of the favorites. I am not saying that she never felt bullied because when you are in a sport with a bunch of girls it is bound to happen. However, anything that she may have felt was never about race and I can assure you everyone at some point has felt bullied.

“I watched Dena open her home to Gabby, feeding her, taking her to gym, and allowing her to stay over her house whenever Gabby wanted to,” he said.

306 comments Add your comment

lavern

August 29th, 2012
8:45 am

She never made a racist remark. She only told what happened to her and she WONDERED was it because she was black? The trainer was not around all the time, how does he know what was said? Why is he defending the others? She was not talking about him or the gym, only the girls there.

bob

August 29th, 2012
9:25 am

The problem is even hinting at racism and claiming it was the reason why she ended up going to another gym makes this place look bad. To say otherwise is just not living in reality especially when she brings these charges up when she’s very unlikley to be doubted.

Adiamond

August 29th, 2012
9:25 am

Why is racism so unacceptably frowned upon when spoken about? Sadly many put more emphasis on not speaking about it than they do stopping it.

wrestler

August 29th, 2012
9:26 am

Wow, America’s sweetheart goes on Oprah and now race has to come into it. Of course, because it is Oprah who pulled her support of Hillary Clinton to tell her viewers to vote for Obama. Want to play the race card Oprah, why did you only have Gabby on the show, what about the rest of the team???

JohnnyU

August 29th, 2012
9:27 am

Poor little Gabby, Oprah and Michelle got here punch drunk. She has not reached their level of racism.

life

August 29th, 2012
9:31 am

I saw the interview. I do not think that Gabby singled anyone out. She expressed how she felt and how the actions of some of the girls made her feel. She never put the gym down, she expressed that if SHE wanted to go to the next level, then SHE would need to make a change. There are so many other things in the world to worry about. I’m sure the old gym will get a boost in enrollment, because of Gabby being their at one time.

B

August 29th, 2012
9:32 am

She is just playing the race card for attention. Oprah loves to talk about racism and she was giving her start by a white man. Go figure!

Here she goes again

August 29th, 2012
9:32 am

Everytime Oprah attaches her claws to someone, they end up on a career downfall. Someone get Gabby aware from her PRONTO!

  

August 29th, 2012
9:32 am

She never made a racist remark. She only told what happened to her and she WONDERED was it because she was black? The trainer was not around all the time, how does he know what was said? Why is he defending the others? She was not talking about him or the gym, only the girls there.

Nonsense. Its just more playing of the race card. Without any apparent merit to her overdramatic claim.

Shelia W

August 29th, 2012
9:36 am

A hit dog will Always bark. Gabby only spoke about her personal experience. We all know people will do behind close doors what they would NEVER do in public. Why not acknowledge her experience,and as the experience and pay more attention. She didn’t say anything negative regarding her training.So sad the trainer took this out of context and so personally,makes one wonder.

kenneth

August 29th, 2012
9:37 am

I agree with laven, She didnt say anything about the school or the instructors. what reason would she have to make that up. She is a sweetheart, and im sure majority of the american peaple agrees. They mad she left and didnt bring fame to their gym.

rick

August 29th, 2012
9:43 am

Wow, can she not talk about how she felt, I hear “oh she may have been bullied” but it was not because she is black, whatever the reason she was trying to understand why it happened that all people? Oprah with silly question but still Gabby talk about how she felt and no amount of media interviews from people that were not there or would even admit they bullied her would change it. I guess the storm is not big enough to blow this story up

JOE COOL............

August 29th, 2012
9:43 am

Ummmmmm, she said “a” TEAMMATE..not the whole team, not the school, not the instructors.

Gregg

August 29th, 2012
9:44 am

Gustavo Moure, CEO of Excalibur and Randy Stageburg, a former National Team member remind me of a couple of chapters in Sharon Foster Ewell’s The Resurection of Nat Turner” were Turner is trying to explain to a white friend (since childhoodm and who taught him to read) how he steadfastly listens to his problems, but when Turner explains his sorrows, his friend tells him that he’s wrong, that he’s not experiencing what he complains of, that he should be a grateful and happy slave. He can read, he has no responsibilities, that the hardships of being a captive are negligable and inconveniences at best. Gabby is not President Obama, she can speak honestly to how she feels and is not obligated with a burden of making white people feel good about themselves.

disappointed

August 29th, 2012
9:45 am

Once again the race card is played. This young lady had such an opportunity to unite people with her big smile and so many people of all races pulling for her. Now I see that she is no different from the other whiners and complainers who want to divide rather than unite. What a shame. She just lost a fan.

McDawg

August 29th, 2012
9:45 am

come on its part of the Oprah/Obama narrative

Oprah used this girl for her own agenda-election year folks -its all scripted

George

August 29th, 2012
9:45 am

I believe Gabby no reason for her to tell that lie that is the price you pay when a parent send their kid off to live with other people .their is no way in the hell i would send my daughter to live with anyone . Racism will exist until the end of time people if people take care of their own kids it will not matter.the coach know dam well it happen that is why he has his panties wad.It that turn people against her than the hell with thembecause whether she know it or not they are not with her now she is only a winner for the moment.

Erika

August 29th, 2012
9:47 am

No one can tell her what she experienced. How can speak so confidently about something that she said she experienced? She does not have to give names, times or dates. That is her account, her testimony and shame on them for questioning her credibility she has nothing to gain by disclosing this information but the gym definitely has something to lose, however they are not responsible for the actions of mean spirited childish comments.

JOE COOL............

August 29th, 2012
9:48 am

“Now I see that she is no different from the other whiners and complainers who want to divide rather than unite. What a shame. She just lost a fan.”

How is she whining or complaining….. she told an experience and didnt know what to make of it. GEEEZ the girl is 16….smh

Ray

August 29th, 2012
9:50 am

The only people playing the so called “race card” are white people who invented the term. If Gabrielle some girls called her their slave, I believe it happened. She didn’t accuse anyone of racism, but it was obvious she was hurt by the term. The former coaches have no idea what the other girls might have said to Gabrielle when they were away from the adults. Kids can say stupid and mean things; or they might have used the term “slave” innocently, not realizing that it was demeaning to blacks. Either way, calling Gabrielle a liar is an overreaction.

Dealwithit

August 29th, 2012
9:51 am

This young lady is talking about her experience and yet you have people accusing her of “playing the racecard” whatever that is. It is what it is and dogging her out for speaking of her experience is not going to change it. Sounds to me like the trainer, etc. are in denial not Gabrielle. As for the slams against Oprah…always been jealousy and of course the remnants of her endorsing the President instead of Hilary Clinton..

Leslie

August 29th, 2012
9:51 am

Wow, first of all, she stated she was the only African American on her team not at the whole gym!! She also accused one of the teammates not the whole gym! This gym sucks for calling her a liar and claim they are hurt. Instead they should have just stated they were sorry for her experience, they weren’t aware of it, and this type of behavior is not tolerated! I can see why she left that place, the owner Dena Walker and their CEO/President Gustavo Moure are jerks! I think they’re feeling SOUR GRAPES because she left their gym for better coaching and she actually made it and became the CHAMPION!!!! Screw this gym! I live in Virginia Beach and I have two girls 4 and 5. I was thinking to take them for lessons at Excalibur but seeing the reaction of the owner and administration and its members, there is NO WAY I’m taking my girls there to train!!! I’d rather go across town which is what I’m going to do!!

BamaMama

August 29th, 2012
9:53 am

The only reason the school is on the defense is because they stand to lose new students inspired by Gabby. They don’t want Black students not to chose their school where Gabby started her training.

If you believe that even the most subtle racism doesn’t exist, wake up a Black person one morning!!

Junior Samples

August 29th, 2012
9:55 am

is there a bigger race baiter than oprah?…i think not

sharon

August 29th, 2012
9:56 am

She commented that she felt isolated and that one of her teamates said she should clean the bar because she is their slave. Why would this cause an uproar? The truth hurts. People don’t like to look at themselves in the mirror or be called out on for their behavior. Truthfully, I wish Oprah had not taken the conversation in that direction. I wish the interview had stayed positive, especially considering it was a white family that took her in while she reached her goals. On another note: when Oprah brought up gabby’s hair and Gabby said I don’t want to focus on that, did you all pick up on Oprah’s nastiness when she said “well I do”. In that moment I saw Oprah as a big fat bully.

Just a thought

August 29th, 2012
9:56 am

My, My, My That ugly race card is upon us again. Let me tell you as an retired coach there is nothing more catty as young girls. They have a pack mentality, usually with a leader that is out to show her power. If one individual made a comment that would not surprise me. Young girls can be extremely mean especially when jeasouly and envy may be present. If the situation were reversed and Douglas were white in a predominately black gym she just might feel just as isolatted.
The issue here is that Oprah loves controversy. It helps her ratings and she needs the ratings on her new net work she will play any card availably. Why didn’t Oprah have Douglas on before she won the Gold Metal if she wanted to discuss Douglas’ color issu? Just wondering.

Alphare

August 29th, 2012
9:57 am

looks like a 17-year was led jumpy by a big talk show mouth

Wow

August 29th, 2012
9:58 am

So sad people criticize another for truthfully speaking about their experience. A person’s perception is their reality. Gabby is a beautiful, talented young lady who speaks well and has GOOD sense. She is old enough to know when she has been treated unfairly. Racism is the foundation for bullying. It’s amazing how the word RACISM always strikes a different nerve, especially when experienced by an Afro American.

Annie

August 29th, 2012
10:00 am

This wouldn’t be the first time that adults ignored bullying. Nor would it be the first time where those in charge ignored the fact that someone in the minority was being bullied. It’s funny that in this version the bullying is being downplayed by someone using the line that everybody is bullied, and this is the type of thing to expect, when you put a bunch of girls together. That man should be thanked for backing up the story, and showing that at that gym, instances of bullying aren’t going to be addressed.

Hitman

August 29th, 2012
10:01 am

Oprha still has a show?

omg

August 29th, 2012
10:01 am

I sicke and tired of hearing about racism. Yep, some people dont like blacks, some people dont like browns, and some people dont like you. Get over it!

mesabb

August 29th, 2012
10:02 am

Welcome to life as an African-American, Gabby. These little slights and insults are just of part of what many of us face on a daily basis. Noone outside the race would ever know or understand: these comments and attitudes are very hurtful. I would think even more so for a young girl growing up and practicing her sport away from her family and in a predominantly white environment. Oprah knows this and simply gave Gabby a chance to pronounce that she has known this type of insensitivity. Gabby never attacked the perpetrator or accused the gym and its staff of anything. All can be forgiven for errant children who say and do hurtful things. But adults who deny and defend — that’s another matter. It’s why the beat goes on.

Dung Particle

August 29th, 2012
10:02 am

Instead of taking her comments seriously and expressing concern, and maybe pledging to at least look into the allegations, all I see are knee-jerk defenses from every single person quoted.

One teammate at Excaliber Gymnastics told her to do something because she was their slave. And all anyone can do is counter-attack? Everyone representing Excaliber Gymnastics in this article comes across like a selfish idiot.

DebDoes

August 29th, 2012
10:05 am

Hair, it all started with the hair comments. She’s black, she doesn’t have ‘good hair’ and that started the whole thing. When you are in the spotlight, you have to take the heat.

Pamela

August 29th, 2012
10:10 am

Gabby only spoke the truth! It amazes me how AFTER a person wins anything like an Oscar or 2 gold medals that all the people that treated them poorly comes to the forefront and cry…’I wasn’t racist towards them’..blah blah blah! B.S.!

Now Gabby can take all of her money and tell them to kiss her a$$! :)

I’m proud of you Gabby. You made it in spite of ignorant racist people! You go Gabby! :)

Boo

August 29th, 2012
10:10 am

So….when she left home to go and train in another state, surely she lived with an African-American family to avoid continued racism.

Dell

August 29th, 2012
10:12 am

What she said, set out below, seems to indicate something more pervasive than a single teammate, so I can see the people who run/own the facility being upset if they would not tolerate such remarks were they aware such remarks were being made.

“I was just, you know, kind of getting racist jokes, kind of being isolated from the group,” she said. “So it was definitely hard. I would come home at night and just cry my eyes out.”

“One of my teammates was like, ‘Can you scrape the bar?’” she said, as quoted by Yahoo. “And they were like, ‘Why doesn’t Gabby do it, she’s our slave?’”

Samantha

August 29th, 2012
10:12 am

DebDoes your comment is so ignorant and racist! African Americans and people of color hair is much better then your stringy, funky hair! We can wear our hair in so many styles than you people can! You sound like a natural born (inbred) fool! :)

Get a life

August 29th, 2012
10:13 am

Let me first say I’m a huge fan of Gabby’s. My daughter does gymnastics, so of course I love the sport, and was pulling for Gabby from the first time I saw her compete. With that being said, I feel all people at some point in their life has been picked on or discriminated against. For me personally, I grew up with a father that could/would never hold down a job, so we always lived from week to week. I never had clothes that were in style, nor did we live in anything that you wanted people to visit. I was always picked on and made fun of, as I child I hated my life. I feel bad for her because someone made her feel like she was different because of her race, but I was made to feel different because of my family’s financial status. Unfortunately, it’s called life and we have to make the best of what we have or whatever circumstance we’re given. I chose to make a better life for myself, and to raise my children to love other people no matter what!!

Down with Auburn

August 29th, 2012
10:14 am

Race relations will improve by leaps and bounds when the likes of Oprah, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton are gone. They do nothing but stir the pot to keep their names relevant and care nothing about using others in the meantime. Oprah set that girl up and needled her into finding an instance of racism in her past. Shame on her, a grown woman.

Rush Limbaugh

August 29th, 2012
10:16 am

Don’t you all know that whites are the only ones who can be victims of Racism?

drew9876

August 29th, 2012
10:19 am

I didn’t see interview, but she had to say something so everyone would buy her book, when it is published. As with all of these celebrities, they either make a statement about race or sexual abused as a child… Give Gabby a break, she is just following the script……

lex

August 29th, 2012
10:20 am

White folks are always getting offended when they’re reminded of their nature.What makes Coach Dena credible? Oh yeah,she white! Why is it seem so far fetched that she felt this way? No matter what happens a black person will always be accused of playing the race card when they expose whites of their continued racism..

$300,000 so far. Not as bad as the library.

August 29th, 2012
10:20 am

A jury found that Fulton County’s former manager, Thomas Andrews, and a commissioner discriminated against Carl when he applied for the director of human services position in April 2007. Carl applied right after a black woman resigned.

“A commissioner wants a black woman in the job and there are too many white boys on staff in human services,” Carl said, describing his former colleague’s testimony.

hair

August 29th, 2012
10:21 am

Would someone explain why blacks ridiculed Gabby for her hair and then Oprah responded by having her hairdresser give Gabby a white-girl hair style (straight/extensions)?

eazye

August 29th, 2012
10:22 am

black women are NEVER EVER given the benefit of the doubt…
.. Why is it a “controversy”??? when WHITE women do things, it is always EXCUSED???? Lindsay Lohan, KIM KARTRASHIAN..
..for example.. but ooo nooo when SERENA WILLIAMS wears a alleged “provacative” oufit, white people and the media goes bananas.
.. makes no logical sense..Just goes to show you white people are still in denial in 2012 and will continue to be until their hearts and minds change….

lex

August 29th, 2012
10:23 am

Pardon my grammatical errors,but at least it will give you guys something at the dinner table…

JJ

August 29th, 2012
10:23 am

Unfortunate. Our society has gotten to the point that people just love to play the race card even when nothing racial even happened. Its almost become second nature for black people to just scream racism at the first chance.

Hill Billy

August 29th, 2012
10:23 am

This is a waste of my time. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE judges their fellow man (or woman) to some extent. It is in our wiring as humans. She is a 16 year old girl that felt attacked at times when she was even younger than that. What 14-15 year old (male or female) hasn’t felt attacked for something that they cannot control at one time or another. She just hasn’t fine tuned her media skills yet as to what might light a fire. Great athlete and represented America well. Hope she doesn’t get forced into growing up too quickly.

dmr

August 29th, 2012
10:25 am

Racism in this Country has turned into “The Little Boy that Cried Wolf”. He did so, so many times when the wolf wasn’t there, that when the wolf finally did appear, nobody believed him. The race card in this Country has been played by supposed prominent leaders and used for personal or political gain. So much so, that you cannot even recognize true racism when you see it. Tawana Brawley, The Duke Rape Case, The Trayvon Martin case, the idea that someone won’t vote for the current President, The Tea Party movement; everyone wants to cry racism before reviewing all the facts and they know it is a way to garner attention and create a firestorm.

This supposedly happened in Virginia Beach. What about the two reporters who were violently beaten from the Virginian Pilot Newspaper? If it weren’t for supposed racism, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would have to go find real jobs.