Gabby Douglas Graces the Cover of Essence Magazine: Why We Love Her So Much

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by Dr. Boyce Watkins

We all love Gabby Douglas.  We also hate the little creatures who felt the need to criticize her hair during the Olympics.  But that’s not most of us, and Gabby has sealed her fate as one of the great black athletes of all-time.  She is intelligent, beautiful, hard-working and dedicated:  All the things that make her into something that our girls can look up to.

Gabby is going to be featured on the cover of the December issue of Essence Magazine.  The decision to put Gabby on the cover will surely spike sales for the magazine, since it is an instant collector’s item.  Additionally, Gabby will be on the cover just in time to promote her new memoir, “Grace, Gold and Glory:  My Leap of Faith.”

Americans love Gabby Douglas because she is everything that black women tend to be:  Dedicated to her purpose, God-fearing and supportive of her mother. I love Gabby because, as a father of girls myself, it’s every daddy’s dream to have a child who carries herself with such grace, even under pressure.  As I tour the country with the Building Outstanding Men and Boys (B.O.M.B) Family Empowerment Series, I am consistently reminded that our boys are not the only ones who need heroes, our girls need our love and protection as well.

The interesting part of Gabby’s life is now set to begin, as she hits adulthood and tangles with the constraints of being a celebrity and role model.  Thankfully, she takes her status as a role model seriously and doesn’t run away from the responsibility.  The girl who started in poverty is going to be able to attend any college she chooses and earn no less than $10 million dollars in endorsements from the work she did before the age of 16.  Not a bad deal if you ask me.

All of our girls can be Gabby Douglas in their own way.  They can all be high fliers in every aspect of life.  We must elevate, celebrate and incubate them so that their potential can be reached.  But we must also make sure that we respect them, which is one of the problems I have with commercialized hip-hop right now.  I refuse to live in a world where even young women are taught that it’s acceptable for rappers to refer to them as b*tches and hoes in every other sentence.   No other group of people have been psychologically poisoned in such a harmful and disgusting way.

Gabby Douglas is less than half my age, but she is my role model too. The courage that it took for Gabby and her mom to take a chance to push her to greatness is a reminder to all of us that you will never discover new lands if you are afraid to leave the shore.  Being the best requires that you exit your pre-existing comfort zones, and it is the magical mixture of courage, talent and dedication that will have you smiling at the top.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging Assets with Your Partner in Ways that Feel Good.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.