"Simone Manuel Wins First Individual Olympic Gold In Swimming For African-American Woman." That's one way to cover history, which the 20-year-old Manuel made in Rio when she took joint first place in the 100-meter freestyle with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak.
San Jose's Mercury News, unfortunately, saw fit to elide Manuel's win with her race so completely as to omit her name, further overshadowing her accomplishments with those of a well-celebrated white man. Like this:
What kind of bullshit headline is this, @mercnews?! Her name is Simone Manuel. #Rio2016 pic.twitter.com/tdJsnr2wdI— Kathryn Schotthoefer (@katschott) August 12, 2016
“Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American," the web headline and tweet read, as the Huffington Post recorded. Internet observers were rankled, and even Mercury News staffers spoke out against it.
Is this real life? So disappointing! Way to go @mercnews 😡 her name is @simone_manuel tf? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/oCfqyGOFHp— △⃒⃘ Eva La Morte△⃒⃘ (@EvaLaMorte) August 12, 2016
This is a terrible headline. It's my paper. I might get in trouble for saying it, but it's a terrible headline. https://t.co/ulQyf2eVnu— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) August 12, 2016
The tweet has since been deleted, and the story, which is here, includes an editor's note: "The original headline on this story was insensitive and has been updated to acknowledge the historic gold medal wins by both Simone Manuel and Michael Phelps. We apologize for the original headline. The story has also been updated."
Manuel spoke, following her victory, about the meaning of her accomplishment as an African- American athlete. “It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality,” USA Today quotes Manuel “This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory.”
“Coming into the race I tried to take weight of the black community off my shoulders," Manuel also said. "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.’"
Previously: At Rio Olympics, SF Native Ends 32-Year Fencing Medal Drought With Silver