Serena Williams Brought 1968 Back to Life in London, England
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You would have to be morally brain dead to not always envision the unspeakable atrocities on Black men in England after listening to Sinead O’Connor’s “Black Boys on Mopeds.” So haunting that the first few bars of the song is equivalent to the most solemn of Negro spirituals. Even though Margaret Thatcher is no longer in charge, the disparaging feelings towards the true man of color still run rampant throughout the streets of England. Still in remembrance is Mark Duggan. The 29-year old Black male was killed while as a passenger in a taxi cab. Reports from police stated that Mr. Duggan fired from the cab – while there was no mention from the drive of the cab. After Duggan’s death in August 2011, he was accused of having been a drug dealer. How befitting. But before anyone says, “Oh, it’s too soon to pass judgment,” consider the history of the British police and the Tottenham affairs. Though there had been some progress made since 1985 to ease the tension between the police and the African-Caribbean community, the shooting (which some have called an ‘assassination’) of Mark Duggan only intensified the deep feelings of aggravation. While in police custody, many young Black people were said to be six, seven, and even eight times more likely to be suspected of attempting to commit a crime. Even with that in mind, being pulled over for suspicion only added to their fears.
Fast forward twelve months to August 4, 2012 from August 4, 2011 (the killing date of Mark Duggan). Serena Williams beats Tennis Sweetheart Maria Sharapova in the Women’s Singles Final to take the Gold medal for the USA. Could it have been a haunt in the stadium to blow the flag towards Serena? Who knows. It could have been just a fluke. But in any respect, what a more proper time for Miss Williams to be possessed into doing a celebratory dance after receiving the Gold medal from the country that fails to show proper praise of diversity. In a way, Serena’s Gold medal dance was reflective of the 1968 Olympic event in which Gold medalist Tommie Smith, and Bronze medalist John Carlos both raised their fist on the podium after receiving their medals. Though Tommie Smith has been quoted as saying in his autobiography, “Silent Gesture,” that the raised fist had nothing to do with ‘Black Power’ but having much to do with ‘human rights,’ Serena’s statement was much louder as even though she had just won Wimbledon as the number six seed a couple weeks prior to the Olympics, only at a move to number four she cruised and crushed everyone…again. Still, she cares nothing about being ranked number one because she is the BEST at number four.
And, while some have brought more attention to Serena’s dance, the “Crip Walk,” made famous by Snoop Dog (now Snoop Lion after his spiritual enlightenment) many fail to recognize it as her paying homage to overcoming her adversities. Although Serena may not have risen from any ghetto, she and her sister Venus are proof that even though you have conquered a world that was not designed for you, even print media like The Huffington Post, CNN, and Yahoo! Sports fail to properly allot them equal advertising space as that of their competitors. While Michael Phelps can command headers and banners that stretch across the screen, often will you find the smallest mention of a Venus and Serena win. Even with combined assets totaling more than $80 million, the Williams sisters could have increased wealth had they been of a different color. However, as they continue excelling in tennis, their clothing line remains prosperous and beneficial. There is a powerful 90’s R&B singing group, SWV, that is better known as Sisters With Voices. Well, if you were to take the order of progression in the Olympics, it was Serena Williams (Singles Gold Medalist) and then Venus (Doubles Gold Medalist with Serena). These ladies truly are sisters with voices. Though they are not professional singers, the Williams Sisters lift their voices on the tennis court. When you see one, you see the other. And now, they are equal, i.e. as far as Olympic Gold medals. Then, while one may be wildly remembered for her comeback after a severe medical diagnosis, the other will forever be wildly remembered for her 2011 US Open on-court outburst. Sorry, even I had to bring that up again. But rest assured, if the anger that was displayed at the 2011 US Open is what is being channeled now during Serena’s tennis matches, does anyone stand a chance against her? Though it may have taken her some time to fully develop the tunnel vision she needed to be the true champion Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King has said she should be, at 30 years of age she is conquering the field of newbies and naysayers as if she is just starting out. Wimbledon may well have been Serena’s coming out party. The 2012 Olympics has definitely been her statement stamp.
So, suffice is to say that Serena Williams’ dance was her way of saying, “You Must See Me!” The way Serena demolished the sweetheart of the tennis world, Maria Sharapova, was similar to the way Jesse Owens embarrassed Adolf Hitler in 1936 with his four Gold medal victories. Was the US flag lowering after the medal presentation ceremony meant as an embarrassment toward the USA and Serena Williams? If it was, Serena had already proven that although she was from the United States of America, she was an individual first and foremost. And she was an individual Black woman who had taken down the most formidable of foes in her quest for Olympic Gold. I’m sure the All-England Country Club was at least a little versed in Black History. If they weren’t, it seemed all too appropriate for Miss Williams to plead innocent to dancing on their ill-fated parade of sorts. It would have been a little too obvious had she did another little jig after the fact. Great Britain should be grateful to whoever created those horrible grey jackets that hide the contours of the US Olympians’ anatomies. Either way, Serena got the last laugh on Saturday, August 4, one year after the death of Mark Duggan – and together with her sister Venus the next day.