When we look back on the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics, no account will be complete if it fails to mention the Olympic force who is Simone Biles. For the last two weeks, Biles’ journey into the history books has captured the hearts and minds of every Olympic watcher. She beamed, vaulted and floor-danced. She met her real-life crush, actor Zac Efron, in front of millions on morning television. She epitomized #BlackGirlMagic and dared little girls across America to outrun their dreams.
Biles’ amazing 2016 Olympic run challenged our imaginations. And while the media has been filled with accounts of her rise to Olympic greatness, it has also predictably used her life as a way to trot out one of the most pernicious tropes of the war on drugs: the “black, drug-addicted mother.” According to the media, Biles’ rise is all the more astonishing because she spent the first several years of her life under the care of her mother, Shannon Biles, who was eventually deemed “unfit” to care for her daughter because of her problematic use of drugs and alcohol.
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