Last week, Serena Williams penned a powerful post on Facebook titled “I will not be silent”. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find the full post here.
To be quite honest, as a fellow black, I was really moved by this post, which succinctly and accurately touched upon the recent spate of violent black shootings by police cops. The truth is we all have our varying opinions on the unfortunate distrust that has built up between black men and police cops. However, one thing is clear from each and every recent shooting. No one had to die, including the cops who have been victims of retaliatory ambushes. No one had to die.
I share in some of Serena’s thoughts and worries. Amidst the spate of killings, I’ve often wondered if we are moving forward or backward. Black-White relations have come a long way and many people see the culmination of this in the 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first black president of the United States – your personal opinion of him aside. We can all agree that such an event was not possible four decades ago. While we blacks praise and laud the efforts of influential black leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Park and many others, it is important to remember that progress is made when both sides come together. So where one race found a voice to shout out the injustice, there were members of the other race who found an ear – and a heart – to listen. Safe to say, we’ve all been better for it. That includes tennis.
Althea Gibson, Malivai Washington, Arthur Ashe, James Blake, The William Sisters, Gael Monfils. The sport has seen a host of great champions and electrifying tennis players come out from the black race and their accomplishments cannot be understated or ignored. The same goes for their contributions to the game in general. Last year, James Blake was unfortunately at the wrong place at the wrong time and was the focal point in a huge case of mistaken identities. However, he was a victim of police brutality, in the way he was manhandled. This is taking into consideration that he was clearly unarmed, was not running and was not resisting the police officer that approached – attacked – him. Much like Serena, he used his position and his voice to let the nation and the world, know about it. I respect James Blake for not making it so much a race issue as it was a police brutality issue. Over a year later, I believe it safe to make it a race issue. And much like James Blake and Serena Williams, I would like to see other leading tennis players black, white, Hispanic and the like, come out and let their voices be heard. I just hope that there are still ears and hearts today, that will listen.
To love each other will always bring about a beautiful thing. It will produce spectacular moments like Federer vs Monfils, Agassi vs Blake, Nadal vs Tsonga, Serena vs Azarenka. To hate each other is to destroy what future we might have created together. Unfortunately it is much easier to hate and takes a lot of courage to love someone different from you. Maybe that’s why it is worth it. Nothing good comes easy after all.