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Dear Allyson Felix, Somebody's Studyin' You

Dear Allyson Felix,

First, I want to wish you all the best of success at the 2012 London Olympics.  I hope that you exceed beyond your wildest expectations.

In fact, I need you to.

Quite frankly, Ms. Felix, I really didn't know much about you until my little seven year-old cousin started talking about you.  You see, she runs the 100 and 200 meters.  She hasn't had a lot of coaching, and she's been winning on sheer talent alone.  She's the eighth fastest seven year-old in the AAU Western Region Junior Olympics and has qualified for the AAU National Junior Olympics in the 100 meters this summer.

And she's studyin' you.  I mean that in the southern sense of the word.  She watches your form.  She imitates how you slice the air with your hands when you run. She watches how you get out of the blocks. And she's having fun doing it.

She wants to do what you're doing.

In the midst of it all, this beautiful, intelligent, sweet little girl is surrounded by negative images of what we as black women and girls are.  She is a dark-skinned girl in a predominantly blond white girl world.  Little white girls have told her that they can't sit next to her because she's brown, that her long braids feel like rope, and that her hair should be used as a mop.

Despite it all, she continues to excel.  Did I tell you that she's smart as a whip, plays the piano by ear, and does hip-hop dance?

And she's studyin' you.  Your victory will represent all that is possible to her.

So, Ms. Felix, as much as you may believe that you're running for yourself or your country, you're also running for a little dark-skinned girl in Southern California who still questions her beauty and her worth and runs like the wind because she's been studyin' you.  She needs all the positive images of black women she can possibly get to counteract what she deals with as a dark-skinned little girl in a blond white girl world.

So for this year, I just really need you to win. For her.  No pressure.  :-)

Good luck and God speed, Allyson Felix.

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