You’ve probably heard of badass Olympian Gabby Douglas.
She’s a gymnast who is currently competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics for Team USA.
On Aug. 9, 2016, Douglas and her teammates jumped, flipped, and spun their way onto the gold medal podium for the women’s gymnastics team all-around. They got up on the stand and stood proudly as the U.S. national anthem blared through the stadium.
It was a happy moment. Until some jerks on the internet chimed in.
People online started criticizing Douglas for not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem. She wasn’t being patriotic enough, they said.
The Virginia-born woman competing for Team USA in the Olympics while draped in a leotard almost literally made out of the American flag isn’t patriotic enough.
I would say it’s absurd, but we all know her patriotism isn’t really the issue. After all, Michael Phelps laughed at his buddies’ antics while the national anthem played for one of his gold medals, and no one took to Twitter to harass him.
But Douglas is black and a woman, and internet trolls, that’s a double whammy in terms of being a target for harassment about everything from her hair to her smile to her general demeanor and even accusing her of bleaching her skin.
Women of color have to deal with more online harassment than anyone else by a long shot.
“I tried to stay off the internet because there’s just so much negativity,” Douglas reportedly said, choking back tears. “Either it was about my hair or my hand not over my heart [on the podium] or I look depressed. … It was hurtful. It was hurtful. It was. It’s been kind of a lot to deal with.”
“Ghostbusters” star and Olympics enthusiast Leslie Jones also knows a thing or two about online harassment.
Jones faced an absolutely horrific amount of harassment after “Ghostbusters” premiered in July, and when she heard what was happening to Gabby, she jumped to the gymnast’s defense.
Jones started the hashtag #LOVE4GABBYUSA — a spin on the #LoveForLeslieJ hashtag people used to support her just a month ago — and other Twitter users started jumping in fast.
Gabby received support from TV producer Shonda Rhimes:
From actresses Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union:
And TV writer Jose Molina:
If you ask me, comedian Aparna Nancherla said it best:
The internet can be a pretty terrible place. Harassment of women and people of color is commonplace, and most people don’t have celebrities and hashtags to come to their defense.
One thing is for sure, though. Gabby Douglas is inspiring a lot more love than hate.
Because for every hurtful tweet, there’s one like this: