San Jose’s Mercury News has apologized and updated a story that had originally been titled, “Olympics: Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American.” That cringeworthy headline was referring to Simone Manuel’s historic win in the 100-meter freestyle Thursday night, when she became the first African-American woman to win gold in an individual swimming event. According to the Associated Press, the Mercury News responded quickly with a new headline and an editor’s note.
The headline is bad, but it’s even worse in the context of America’s racist history of segregation at public pools, as well as the ongoing racism that Manuel referred to in one of her post-win speeches.
“It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality. This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory,” she said.
“Coming into the race, I tried to take weight of the black community off my shoulders. It’s something I carry with me. I want to be an inspiration, but I would like there to be a day when it is not ‘Simone, the black swimmer.’ The title of black swimmer suggests that I am not supposed to win golds or break records, but that’s not true, because I train hard and want to win just like everyone else … This medal is not just for me. It is for some of the African-Americans who have come before me. This medal is for the people who come behind me and get into the sport and hopefully find love and drive to get to this point.”
Here’s one future Olympian who’s definitely psyched about Manuel’s win.