The National Institute for Restorative Justice
"Educating for Advocacy"
15226 Lakeshore Blvd
Cleveland, Ohio 44110
Mittie's Musings: A Message From The Chair
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember, you have within you the
strength, the patience,
and the
passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
Harriett Ross Tubman
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Renewing Inalienable Rights, Rebuilding Communal Confidence, Re-energizing Sustainable Economy, Reviving Unbridled Spirit
August 2012
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Aunt Artie would say, “Ay God!”  I get it.  (Folk, seriously though... Regardless of the tradition and language, in naming our
children, grasp for reason over rhythm and rhyme.  I’ll save that for another day.)

There has been so much talk, talk, talk about Gabby Douglas since her remarkable rise to her place among Olympic champions.   
Talk, talk, talk - much to do about nothing related to her athletic gifts, graces and drive.  Rather, it has been talk about her hair (I
leave that defense to Syracuse’s brilliant Dr. Boyce Watkins), talk about her Daddy, and talk about the prospects of her
commercial earning potential beyond the arena - a speculative dollar amount that seems to diminish day by day.

Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia on New Year’s Eve, 1995, Gabrielle Christina Victoria Douglas entered the 2012 London Games
as an under-appreciated athlete, deemed an unlikely competitor even by the US National Women’s Team Coordinator, Marta
Karolyi.  The New York Times reported that Karolyi and her husband Bela concluded that Douglas was not “mentally tough
enough” to compete. They went on to say that they “did not think she had what it took to be an Olympian.  She lacked
confidence and focus, Karolyi said even as recently as a few weeks [before the game].”  (NYT August 3, 2012)  Boy is she
eating all her words!  Oops!  No she’s not, she’s too busy posing and grinning - all wrapped around Gabby – for photographs.  

What the Karolyi’s did not count on was Gabrielle’s abiding, unshakable faith in God and in herself.  Gabby is a believer.  And so,
too, are the people who have loved, nurtured and provided for her – including her father – throughout her entire life.

Arielle Hawkins - her sister, first coach and primary advocate - recognized Gabrielle’s gifts as early as age three, as she
witnessed her perfect mastering of one-handed cartwheels.  By the time Gabrielle was six, and showing obvious signs of a gifted
athlete, Arielle suggested that she should be enrolled in a gymnastics program.  Her mother complied, having no real idea that she
was signing off on an amazing and demanding journey.  It would later be Arielle again to champion Gabrielle’s plea to move over
1,200 miles away from her home in Virginia Beach to Des Moines, Iowa to train with Liang Chow, a request that never rest
easily for her mother.

The media has insistently portrayed Natalie Hawkins in the light of the “pathetic, single parent.”  I’m a single parent, but like Ms.
Hawkins not by the definition implied by the mass media as a woman who – in their view - recklessly has children outside of
wedlock.   We are, each - as are many others - single parents by different paths and life choices.  I am a single parent by
adoption.  Ms. Hawkins only became single in March of this year, when she filed for divorce from her “estranged” – in part by
way of active war duty - husband, Air National Guard Staff Sergeant, Timothy Douglass.   But let it be perfectly clear, there is
nothing pathetic about Natalie Hawkins.

With a husband away at war, and – according to Gabby – too “short on money” to adequately contribute to her support, Natalie
Hawkins stepped up to, and over the plate to insure that her children’s needs and desires were met.  By all accounts, she has
been the primary, and often sole financial provider for the overhead of her household and Gabrielle’s athletic training since 2005.  
This is why it is difficult for some of us to swallow the notion of another family being chimed in on the heels of Gabrielle’s
victory as “her other parents.”   Or, as Princeton’s Professor Tera Hunter so aptly points out in her narrative on the matter, how
is it that an Iowa host family suddenly becomes deemed “foster parents” to a child who is not a ward of the county or state.  
(Link to article below)

Travis and Missy Parton provided room and board for Gabrielle Douglas for the past two years while she trained for the
Olympics with Liang Chow in Des Moines.  They served as her “host family” and - eight years into young, Miss Douglas ten-
year career - were graced the reward of cashing in on the glory of an Olympic champion.  They did not bear the burden of the
prior fifteen years of raising and nurturing an Olympian (the media pushes the fact that she was 14 when she left for Iowa, but
the whole truth – and nothing but – is that she arrived in October, only two months shy of her 15th birthday).  

As host family, the Parton’s have benefited from fifteen years of loving, feeding, clothing, driving back and forth from here to
there, working over-time, juggling schedules, pinching pennies, and making tough, heart wrenching decisions to relinquish a
precious child into the unknown.  And, they certainly did not bare the burden of nearly $80,000 of debt that eventually forced
Natalie Hawkins into bankruptcy.  With all due respect, they were a “host family,” to be commended for opening their doors to
an obvious champion on the eve of her final climb into the world arena.  Call them up and see if they’ll let little Sha’Nay-Nay who
just started gymnastics hang out at their house for a year.  (Oh yeah, remember? Reason, not  rhythm, rhyme.)

While speaking of folk who labored for years only to have the last minute surrogates cash in, we have to raise the name of Dena
Walker, Gabrielle’s primary coach who’s Excalibur Gymnastic clinic led Liang Chow to the “Flying Princess,” a nick-name Dr.
Boyce Watkins has coined in preference over Marta Karolyi’s “Flying Squirrel.”  To Chow’s credit, the athlete pursued him, and
he spoke first with Ms. Walker before agreeing to sign on as her coach.  Ms. Walker contends that Gabrielle could have made the
Olympics without him.  We’ll never know.  But we do know that it was through her program that Gabrielle was trained and
readied for an Olympic coach to take notice, and take her under wing.
Of the thousands of photographs documenting Little Miss Gabby’s Olympic Gold
Medal performance, recognition and awarding; my favorite, by far, is one snapped just
seconds after the winning results came in.  Lift to the mat by her coach, Liang Chow,
and overwhelmed by the thunderous roar of cheers from the London stadium stands –
she placed her hand over her heart, and with tears of joy welling in her closed eyes,
she lift her other hand to Glory - indeed she gave it all to God within the second
sentence of her first televised, post gold-winning interview.  When asked by an NBC
reporter if she thought winning the gold was everything she thought it would be, she
responded: “It is everything I thought it would be… it is definitely an amazing feeling,
and I give all the glory to God, it’s a win-win situation, the glory goes up to God and
the blessings fall down on me.”
Named For Glory: The Gift of Gabby
Olympic Champion
Gabrielle Douglas
moments after qualifying
for the Gold Medal

Photo by Thomas Coex
for The Associated Press
I believe this photograph captures the moment
the reality of her history-making Olympic
accomplishment became crystal clear to her.  
And, for the record, we’re talking world
games.  History was made far beyond America’
s books and borders.  When Gabrielle Douglas
earned the gold for best all-around individual
Olympic gymnast, she did not simply become
the first African-American to do so, she
became the first black person – female or male
– in the world to do so.  As well, she became
the first black, and the first American – black
or white - gymnast to win both the team and all-
around individual gold in the same Olympic

I also believe that her road to Olympic gold and
glory began long before she perfected her first
cartwheel at the age of three.  I contend that
she was destined for victory on the day she
was born and blessed with the powerful
combination of her four names:  Gabrielle (God
gives strength) Christina (Christ Bearer)
Victoria (Winner) Douglas (Flowing from the
dark river).  My Lord!  Or, as my late
Under Ms. Walker’s training, by the age of 8, Gabrielle Douglas was already
making gymnastic strides, winning the all-around Virginia state title for level
four athletes.  She made her national debut in 2010 at age 15 during a
televised meet in Massachusetts, named for former Olympic Gold Medalist,
Nastia Liukim.  From that point forward, despite the nay-sayers, she has
performed like a champion, placing and winning in classics, national and
world games.

While the organizers and coordinators of the US Women’s Gymnastic team
placed their great high hopes for gold in other hands, Gabrielle - nor her
family - never stopped believing in her ability to win.  On Thursday, August
2, 2012, just as she entered the arena where she would astound the world
with her brilliant performance, she received a phone call from her mother.  
Natalie Hawkins assured her daughter with faith filled words:  “I believe in
you, baby.”  Gabby responded.  “I believe, too.”  

Gabrielle later revealed that even in the face of doubt, with many odds against
her, she was certain of her ability to win as she took to the mat to perform
her gold-medal worthy routine.  “It was an amazing feeling.  I was just like,
‘Believe, don’t fear, believe!’”

Thank you Gabby for your faith, for believing that you could win, for
winning, and for your bold witness.  


~ Mittie Imani Jordan, Chair
Olympic Gold Medalist Gabrielle Douglas
"The Flying Princess"
Photo by Streeter Lecka for Getty Images
May 2012
We Got Programs, They Got Jobs!
They are turning off street lights in poor communities inside Detroit.  Black male unemployment in Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo,
Milwaukee and Detroit - all urban cities on Great Lakes - is over 52%.  Thousands of public schools and transportation routes are
being closed throughout the nation.  Inner-city properties are being seized for code violations, bank and tax foreclosures, and forced
probate sales.  Blocks of houses are left abandoned and dangerously accessible for vagrancy and crime.  Medical trauma centers are
being shut down.  Massive juvenile detention centers are being erected.  Welcome to the tragic reality of too many urban Black
American communities.  

Continue Reading
Syracuse Professor Boyce Watkins On Twitterers attack on Gabby's Hair

Princeton's Professor Tera Hunter  On Diminishing of Douglas' family
Link in to articles by Drs. Boyce
Watkins and Tera Hunter regarding
attacks on Gabby's hair and family.