08/08/2012 10:27 am ET Updated Oct 08, 2012

Why Gabby Douglas's Blackness Matters

The first Olympics I ever paid attention to were the 1996 Summer Games. I was 11 years old, just sort of starting to become a person and working out my various identities: female, black (or black, then female?), child of a Jamaican immigrant and a Southerner, a Californian, a writer, a devourer of books, a sports-hater. Those Summer Games were probably my first taste of sweet, sweet nationalism, even if I was oft-torn between Jamaica and the United States.

Of course, that was the summer of the Magnificent 7 and Dominique Dawes. We--my family, my community--were fiercely proud of her. While it was Kerri Strug who provided the most compelling story (watching her vault painfully, beautifully, on a fractured ankle in fuzzy YouTube videos still brings me to tears), Dominique was solid--and her tumbling on beam was a sight to behold.