Simone Biles From Twitter

The Policing and Punishment of Black Girl Magic in Sports


Last month Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in US history, made history again. This time for landing the Yurchenko double pike vault.

The vault is complex and gravity defying. It’s beautiful to watch but considered so dangerous that no other woman has even attempted the move in competition. That means Simone Biles accomplished something no other gymnast has before.

Yet rather than lauding her skill, determination, and athleticism, Biles was penalized.

Despite the clear difficulty level of the actual vault, Biles received a provisional score of 6.6, a score similar to her previous routines.

How difficult is the move?

According to the NY Times, “To execute it, a gymnast first must launch herself into a roundoff back handspring onto the vaulting table, and then propel herself high enough to give herself time to flip twice in a pike position (body folded, legs straight) before landing on her feet.”

So, despite the difficulty the judges regarded it as equal to other vaults.

That rationale wasn’t lost on Biles.

Continue reading over at First and Pen.

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