I jumped up and cheered as I saw Simone Manuel fight her way to touch the wall. I wasn’t sure she could do it. She wasn’t necessarily the favorite. And she wasn’t the most talked about media darling with tons of endorsements.
But she beamed as she reviewed the results and concluded she had won. I couldn’t help but to tear up as I watched Simone walk away from the pool as the first black woman to win the Olympic gold medal for the U.S. Swim Team.
Last week I also watched Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles compete for gold medals in the Women’s Gymnastics. I was excited to see them perform with precision and dominance. More than anything I was inspired as I watch the magic of black girls unfold. Across the world they were impregnating the minds and hearts of little black girls with a dream of one day competing in the Olympics.
I often talk about the need to encourage our youth to dream, to hope, and believe. So I had to show my 5-year-old daughter a video of Simone Manuel winning the gold. I wanted her to see a black girl much like herself set goals and work hard to achieve them. I wanted her to witness history.
As a father, I am constantly reiterating to my daughters that they can do anything. I don’t ignore or choose to live in denial about the challenges of sexism and racism that plagues humanity. I didn’t always value or understand everything a woman has to offer. And I am glad to report that I am still working on that understanding. And although I cheered for women in the Olympics. I know that same enthusiasm and support must translate beyond sports, gold medals, or fame.
The value of my mother, and two daughters transcends sports. For my daughters, I want them to know they are free to celebrate their uniqueness first and foremost. So I am proud of Manuel, Biles, and Douglas. But I am more proud to be raising black girls.