Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez is kicking off Women’s History Week with a stance on Latinx representation in the Olympics.
From being the second Latina to make it to the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic team, to winning first place in “Dancing with the Stars” and becoming a best-selling author with her book “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond,” it’s no wonder Laurie Hernandez is being featured in this powerful women’s campaign. In collaboration with MTV and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), Laurie Hernandez is beyond excited to serve as a “role model for not just [her] generation, but generations ahead.” More than ever, she feels that “it’s a huge responsibility to represent [her] heritage in the United States, at the Olympics.”
Even though Laurie suffered two injuries that required surgery when she was 13, she didn’t let it get in the way of achieving her dream.
It’s a well-known fact that the world of gymnastics can be particularly grueling. Gymnasts are often subjected to long hours of intense workouts, immense pressure to compete, and the high likelihood of sustaining injuries. It’s all part of the sport and what makes elite gymnasts like Laurie Hernandez so inspiring.
What women like Hernandez, do not sign up for however is the culture of abuse pervasive in the gymnastics world. Recently, USA Gymnastics has seen a period of years in which instances of abuse have come to light. In 2018, in fact, Lawrence Gerard Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics national team doctor and osteopathic physician, was sentenced to prison for his sexual abuse of minors who were gymnasts and patients of his. As part of his conviction, many gymnasts were quick to point out that the toxic and abusive nature of certain coaches allowed such abuse to happen. As it turns out while Hernandez never came forward to make a claim against Nassar she has recently made one about her gymnastics coach.
Maggie Haney, a gymnastics coach who trained Hernandez during the 2016 Olympics, has been suspended by USA Gymnastics.
USA Gymnastics decided that she would be suspected for a period of eight years for her part in verbal and emotional abuse of athletes. According to reports, once the suspension period is over Haney will be permitted to reapply for membership.
“The independent hearing panel — comprised of three members of the gymnastics community, including an attorney, a club owner, and a former national team athlete — found that Ms. Haney violated the USA Gymnastics Code of Ethical Conduct, Safe Sport Policy, and other policies,” the organization told People.com in a statement.
Hernandez spoke out about the abuse in an Instagram post shared to her page.
Hernandez, who won a gold and a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, testified against Haney throughout a series of months of hearings which involved other gymnasts who trained under Haney.
Pasadena’s Annual Rose Bowl kicked off 2020 with three generations of Latinas as Grand Marshals, signaling city-wide solidarity with Latina-American’s cultural and athletic contributions to the United States’ history. Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Peabody and Tony award-winner Rita Moreno was joined by Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and actress Gina Torres as the parade’s grand marshals, much to the excitement of all Latinos who tuned in for the annually-presented programming. Luis Recalde, an Argentine-American living in Huntington Park, told The Los Angeles Times that, in hindsight, every parade he’s attended over the last six years were “very commercial,” but that the Latino representation this year helped those minorities who “want to feel near their country.”
For the women who got to participate in the coin toss and wave at throngs of Angelinos of all races, cultures, and walks of life, the opportunity was just as thrilling.
There is a reason so much diversity was palpably felt this year compared to last. For the first time ever, a Latina was elected president of the Tournament of Roses Association. Laura Farber is the Argentine immigrant who oversaw the entire parade production meant to mark the beginning of a new year and offer hope to the Angeles community. With a Latina in leadership, we finally got to see Latinas honored at the highest level the Tournament of Roses Association offers: Grand Marshals.
Gina Torres took to social media to comment on the grandiosity of the moment. “Rolling into 2020 as a Grand Marshal,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Let’s break that down, shall we? Grand: 1)Impressive in size, appearance or general effect 2) stately, dignified majestic ✨Marshal: A military officer of the highest rank ???????? Oh! So like, The HBIC of everyone’s dreams???? Let’s do this. I’m ready. Are you?” Torres is the Afro-Cuban-American who has taken over USA Network as the starring actress in “Suits” and “Pearson.” When she’s not winning National Hispanic Media Coalition Awards, she’s giving back to Dress for Success and Planned Parenthood.
Meanwhile, Rita Moreno actually practiced her coin toss before the nationally-televised event.
“My family and I were astounded at how beautifully your entire organization, from the President to the hundreds of devoted volunteers, handled what could have been a logistical nightmare in less capable hands,” Moreno shared on Instagram. “We deeply appreciated all you did to make the day an outstanding experience for all involved! Bravo????❤️????,” she added after half a dozen posts commemorating the event.
Of course, Moreno can entertain us all even with a simple coin toss.
At 88-years-old, many folks saw that Rita Moreno was trending on Twitter and braced themselves for the worst news. Much to our delight, Rita Moreno is thriving, offering a flourishing dramatic coin toss complete with karate chops on nationally-televised programming in front of tens of thousands of people because, well, she can. Moreno has long been marching for social justice issues ranging from civil rights, education, and jobs. Her contributions to the Latino community go without saying.
Laurie Hernandez called the entire experience “insane.”
“One of the best New Years ever,” the Olympic gold-medalist wrote on social media. “Co-grand Marshall at the Rose Parade??? insane. if you would’ve told me this was happening when i was younger, i wouldn’t have believed you????.” Hernandez, also a Puerto Rican like Moreno, was the youngest of the generations represented, but certainly as accomplished. Hernandez is the first U.S. born Latina to make the U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team since 1984 and has earned our country gold and silver medals during the 2016 Olympics. Since then, she’s gone on to win ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,”authored two books, including a feminist children’s book, and spends her spare time combating bullying with national non-profits.
That’s not all. The crowd roared when Los Lobos started playing “La Bamba” from a parade float.
It’s clear that the Grand Marshal choices were not a singular token effort to reflect the culture of Los Angeles. Other honored guests included first Latina astronaut Ellen Ochoa, “Sesame Street” voice Sonia Manzano, and Spanish-language Dodgers announcer Jaime Jarrín. Puerto Rican, Mexican, Salvadoran, and Costa Rican flags waved as their respective marching bands performed in salute to the vibrant cultures weaved into American society.
“An all Latina Rose Parade grand Marshall, Latina President, bands from El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, & Los Lobos closing out the show?!!?!! This is an awesome way to start 2020! #RoseParade,” tweeted one fan, who frankly speaks for us all.