In a private Facebook conversation Thursday night, Jones told me her group's message goes deeper than hair. “It is to promote positive images of people of African descent. Gabby, our young role model, does that hands down.
“Whoever made those disparaging remarks about Gabby's hair while she was going for the gold, has bought pettiness to a new low. It smacks of jealousy to me — and also idleness.”
At first, I was afraid that Douglas' brilliant performance at the Olympics might become just another chapter in the tired, old story about black women's hair.
But social media trends are brief, and backlash against the trolls soon took over. Thursday, as Douglas soared and jumped and tumbled and strutted to her gold, there were few criticisms of her hair to be found on Twitter. In fact, some of the original “haters” seemed to change their tune.
After Douglas won the individual all-around gold, an interviewer asked her what it all meant to her. She credited God, her family and endurance.
“Hard days ... that's where champions are made,” she said.
Exactly, Gabby — in the gym, not in the hair salon.
Yvette Walker is night news director for The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, and is the E.K. Gaylord Media Ethics chair at the University of Central Oklahoma. She wears her hair straightened — but does not castigate any woman who chooses not to.