Why the U.S. women's gymnastics team is truly America at its finest.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

America is in the midst of some tough conversations. Strong opinions and uncomfortable truths about race, politics, and social justice can make it seem like we're more divided than ever.

There's an unlikely place where we can look forward with hope, however:


The 2016 U.S. women's gymnastics team.

There are big reasons we should celebrate the diverse group of female gymnasts representing the U.S. at the Olympics in Rio this year.

Photo by Jason Lavengood/U.S.A. Gymnastics.

Sure, on the surface, gymnastics doesn't have much to do with those bigger, important conversations currently unfolding across Facebook and dining room tables.

But there's probably never been a better time for an Olympic squad to remind us that yes — we should all be on the same team, regardless of our background or skin color.

The five gymnasts representing the USA in the Olympics are fabulous, badass, and incredibly talented:

1. Chances are you've heard of the awesomeness that is Gabby Douglas.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

"I do want to be sharper," Douglas explained. That may be a tough goal to reach, seeing as she dominated the sport in 2012, becoming the first black gymnast to win an individual Olympic gold.

"When I look at my performances, I’m like, ‘Oo, you’re lagging behind, Gabs.’ The one thing I tell myself is to not get lazy. Nothing is handed to you; you always have to fight for yourself."

2. Laurie Hernandez, the first U.S.-born Latina to join the team since 1984, is a standout at just 16 years old.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"Wow — that's all I can really say," Hernandez said of joining a team with such stellar athletes. Her passionate routines landed her the nickname "human emoji."

"I didn’t realize how much mentally and physically older I got in the past four years, so looking back at this little girl watching the Olympics on her phone, I would never think I’d be here right now."

3. Simone Biles is a 19-year-old Texan who many consider to be among the greatest gymnasts of all time.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"I’m excited about being with the girls all the time because we all know what it’s like to go through this," said Biles, who has snagged a history-making 14 world championship medals (and is just all-around awesome). "We have each other to lean on, and I think that’s the best thing that could have happened."

4. Look out for Madison Kocian, who will be killin' it on the uneven bars.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"It’s just something so special that I will never forget her announcing my name," Kocian said of learning she was going to the Olympics. She won the uneven bars world title in 2015.

5. The team's veteran athlete, Aly Raisman, is a Jewish 22-year-old who's used to bringing home the gold, silver, and bronze.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

"I think it just hasn’t really sunk in yet," Raisman said of landing a spot on the team again this year after competing in 2012 — an Olympics she finished as the team's most decorated gymnast.

One of the best things about the Olympics is that it brings our country together. That's something we need this year, especially.

So far, it's been a year filled with sweeping front-page headlines as well as complexities and tough questions about race relations.

Is there widespread systemic racism in law enforcement? Are we mischaracterizing our brave men and women in blue?

A Dallas vigil for the officers who were killed following an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. Photo by G. Morty Ortega/Getty Images.

America, we've got some soul-searching to do. And one inspirational Olympic team certainly won't make these questions any easier to answer.

These five women, however, serve as a symbolic reminder of why our country is so great — and why it's vital we keep fighting for a better, more equal tomorrow.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

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I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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