Black Skater in White World

New York Daily News, Feb. 26, 2006

These Winter Olympics, oh, how white they are! And I’m not talking about the snow.

Despite the always colorful Al Roker yukking it up on the “Today” show from Turin, these Olympics are so white that the presumption is that certain white athletes are entitled to gold medals. Now, maybe that’s also American arrogance. To me, it’s a bad case of whiteness.

If you’re white, you’re right. If you’re black, get back. I grew up in Georgia with that mantra; so did many other people throughout the South and the diaspora that led so many of us North.

Speed skater Shani Davis, a black dude from Chicago who trains in Canada, has won two medals in these Olympics, but the fact that he is black has been the big news—and the fact that he did not help a white guy, Chad Hedrick, gain a medal that much of the media told us he should win.

Give us a break.

Hedrick came in with the expectation of winning five gold medals. He won one and later sulked when he won a bronze medal for a third-place finish behind an Italian and Davis. He said Davis “betrayed” him by not joining in a speed-skating race called the team pursuit. Davis preferred to concentrate on the individual 1,000-meter race, in which he had a good chance of going for the gold. Perfectly logical to me. After all, as Hedrick has been quoted as saying: “We’ve never been buddies.”

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