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Vol. 11   No. 17
AUGUST 18, 2016
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UNIQUE HITS
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                              The Olympics and more
It’s not that I was glued to my TV set or anything, but I must admit that I watched more of the 2016 Olympics
than I intended to. Perhaps it was the sheer beauty of Rio de Janeiro as long as they didn’t zoom in to the
garbage floating around in the water or the slums on the mountain tops.

There were a lot of compelling stories at the Olympics. Women accounted for about half of all of the U.S.
medals. The U.S. women’s basketball team won gold for a record sixth time in a row and hasn’t lost an
Olympic game for the last 49 games I believe. And they were just fun to watch. They seemed to really play
like a unit and worked together to rack up some incredible lop-sided victories.

And while the men’s team won their third gold medal in a row, they seemed to labor more at it. They had
glimpses of fun, but a lot of their games were close. And while they showed flashes of working as a team, a
lot of times it seemed like it was just five guys out on the court doing their own thing. And I think it was just
their sheer talent, which clearly outmatched any other team in the field, that allowed them to do that and still
win gold.

But the U.S. team had better be forewarned. As the NBA becomes more and more the International Basketball
Association with players from Africa, South America, Europe and Asia playing in the NBA, we will continue to
see the American advantage shrink and shrink until there is a lot of parity between the U.S. and the rest of
the field.

But in the meantime, let’s enjoy it.

At the beginning of the Olympics, there was a controversy surrounding Gabby Douglas — America’s
gymnastic darling four years ago — because she did not put her hand over her heart while the U.S. national
anthem was played during the gold medal ceremony for the overall team gymnastics gold. Somehow, there
was social network chatter talking about how Gabby was dissing the American people, Mom and apple pie.
And she is such a sweet person.

Well, you know that I had to keep track of what other folks were doing with their hands during the playing of
the national anthem. And there were plenty of folks — Black, White, male and female — representing the U.S.
who didn’t put their hand over their hearts. And yet I didn’t see any social or mainstream media chatter about
how unpatriotic they were being. It was silent. That just goes to show you that while I love the Internet and
use social media, it allows some people to get awfully stupid so quickly in relative anonymity and then
disappear into the network so quickly when everyone else realizes how stupid and untruthful they are being.
So Gabby, we know where your heart is, Just be yourself and continue to be the excellence that you are in
spite of those who are envious and have nothing better to do than to cut down others.

And then there was petite, but all so muscular Simone Biles — so perfectly aerodynamically blessed — who
set an Olympic record with four gold and one bronze medals. I know hardly anything about gymnastics, but
even I could see that she was near perfect and so much more advanced than the other gymnasts.

And what was beautiful about the women’s gymnastics team was how much they supported each other.
When Simone was taking home all of that gold, her teammates were coming up and hugging her and
congratulating her even if Simone had just relegated them to second place. And I can’t help but think it is that
collective support that allows the young women to excel individually. It was wonderful to see.

All of the sports were rather fascinating. I was in awe of the track and field competitions. It seemed to me
that many of them had slender bodies and skinny legs. I kept wondering how they did it. There physiques
seemed different from when Carl Lewis was winning all of his gold in the 1990s.

And I felt so bad for Vashti Cunningham, the daughter of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall
Cunningham. Vashti just graduated from high school and was already getting hyped by the sports media in
part because she is the daughter of Randall Cunningham. For almost the two weeks of the Olympics, she
was hyped so much that I thought she was a given for a gold medal. Just show up in Rio and they will
automatically give you the gold. And so I felt so bad for her when she failed to make it to the finals. I know it
was heartbreaking. It was beautiful the way that one of her older high jump teammates comforted her. Vashti
will be back and will someday EARN the gold medal.

In the end, the United States walked away with the most medals of any other team. She won 46 gold, 37
silver and 38 bronze medals for a total of 121 medals. The closest country in terms of total medal count was
China with 70 medals, a 51 medal difference. The U.S. also took more gold, more silver and more bronze than
any other team.

As I watched the Olympics over the past two weeks, I couldn’t help but notice a striking difference between
the U.S. and other teams. The U.S. was a lot more diverse. In all of the different Olympic fields, there was a
mixture of Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos and others who represented the U.S. proud.

And I can’t help but think that it was our diversity — after all, China has way more people than the U.S. has —
that allowed us to run up the medal count. At least in athletics, the United States allows the talent to come to
the fore regardless of race, national origin, etc. And this allows us to compete exceptionally well against the
rest of the field. Other countries had diversity here and there, but not across the board like the U.S. did.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could recognize this key to our greatness in all other phases of American life? No
one would be able to touch us.
Stories & Columns

An Interview with MMSD Jen
Cheatham: Positioning Building
Blocks,
By Jonathan Gramling

Asian Wisconzine
Remembering the Past—
Part 2 of a Few,
By Paul H. Kusuda

Innervisions
Imma Start a Riot Like It’s Baltimore.”,
By Wayne Strong

Let’s Talk Schools
Back to School – Are You Ready?
By Nichelle Nichols

Virtual Music Beat
Checking In with Ricky Racks,
By DJ Pain 1

Poetic Tongues
Accessing the PFC,
By Fabu

YP Spotlight
Cultivating Our Next Digital Giants,
By Nia Trammell

No More Excuses – Raise the
Minimum Wage,
By Marielle Crowley and Brandon
Henning

News Briefs
--UW-Madison PEOPLE Scholars
Discuss College Readiness with
First Lady Michelle Obama
--Glenna Scholle-Malone Leads
Student Diversity and Inclusion

ABCs of School Information
& MMSD Calendar

The Mandela Washington Fellows:
The Future Face of Africa (Part 2),
By Jonathan Gramling

2016 NAACP National Convention:
Mobilizing Against Violence (Part 2),
By Jonathan Gramling

The 2016 Cohort of Edgewood
College’s Community Scholars:
Building Community through Service,
By Jonathan Gramling

The Scholars of Color Mentoring
Program at Madison College:
Mentors help First-Generation
Students Succeed,
From Madison College

Dr. Charles Taylor Gives Keynote
Speech at Smelterville in Cape
Girardeau, Mo.: We Have a
Story to Tell,
By Dr. Charles Taylor

United Way Day of Caring at Centro
Hispano: Preparing for Education,
By Jonathan Gramling

The Launching of Orgullo Latinx
LGBT+ of Dane County: Security
and Equity,
By Jonathan Gramling

One City to Become Pilot for Anji
Play: Learning to Play Again,
By Jonathan Gramling

Backpage
Observance of the 70th
Anniversary of Indian Independence
from the British: Celebrating
Independence
Special Edition Insert
2016 The Diversity Times
A UW-PEOPLE Summer Class Project for
"Exploring College through Media"