Before the 2016 Rio Olympics kicked off in Brazil, CNN host W. Kamau Bell made a request to world famous Olympian Michael Phelps.
Bell, who hosts a show called “United Shades of America,” told Phelps that he should let someone else carry the American flag.
In an editorial for CNN, Bell revealed who he thinks should have the honor instead:
“What I’m trying to say is that as far as America is concerned, you are a golden boy … literally. You getting the opportunity to carry the flag is like Michael Jordan getting a free pair of Nike sneakers.
You are both the living embodiment of the “honor” you are getting.
To put it another way, in the Make-Your-Own-Ice-Cream-Sundae-Bar of life, your sundae is lousy with hot fudge, butterscotch, strawberry sauce, whipped cream, nuts, sprinkles, extra scoops of ice cream, and so many Maraschino cherries that 5-year-old kids with mouthfuls of Maraschino cherries yell as you pass by, “THAT’S TOO MANY CHERRIES!”
And that’s why I would be proud of you for giving up your position to Ibtihaj Muhammad. Muhammad carrying the flag would be much bigger than your one moment.
It would be a symbol for our country in this moment when we are mostly known for one of the most contentious, controversial, scandal-ridden, hateful, xenophobic, jingoistic, and just generally unlikeable presidential elections in recent memory. This is at a time when we could use some more symbols of unity and togetherness.”
Muhammad is a world champion female fencer from New Jersey:
— Ibtihaj Muhammad (@IbtihajMuhammad) June 25, 2016
Some people applauded Bell’s challenge to Phelps:
– It would be a historical moment and send a message to young Muslim girls about inclusion.
— Deborah Troop ?? (@djtroop51) August 5, 2016
Yes! Please, please, please. This is important!
— Alissa McLean (@alissakmclean) August 5, 2016
— Susan Ito (@thesusanito) August 5, 2016
While others were strongly against the decision. One commenter called it race baiting:
he maybe a good guy but this idea is absolutely absurd. So tired of race bating and pandering
— Daniel Gibalevich (@DGibalevich) August 6, 2016
Another said she needs to earn the honor herself:
— Vermont Card Company (@VermontCardCo) August 5, 2016
Some didn’t like the give-everyone-a-trophy mindset:
And didn’t see an issue with an American white male carrying the flag:
And then there was the perspective that Bell’s suggestion is insulting to Muhammad:
So white shame Phelp's success and tell a young competitor that being a black muslim woman is her real success?
— Tyrone Pigbottom (@TyronePigbottom) August 5, 2016
As far Bell’s advice, Phelps didn’t take it. He was recently seen in Rio De Janeiro representing America like this: