They called her out of her name.
They called her manly.
They put ‘Becky with the Good Hair’ above her.
She still rose.
They snubbed her at the racist country clubs.
She still rose.
If Serena Williams isn’t what we would call the most iconic, strong, ambitious, feminine dark-skinned black WOMAN of our time, I don’t know who else could qualify.
Thank you, Serena,for representing us with calm, grace, and regality.
From the Atlantic:
The very facts of her life make her an almost too-perfect representative of the basic struggle against racism and prejudice that people of color in the country still face. She and Venus spent their early childhood in Compton, California, learning the game of tennis on public courts secured by gang members in jeans, and hydrating with water from a taco stand. Although the sisters later received the insulated homeschooling and private tennis lessons that define prodigies, the Williams sisters were often reminded of their race and the fact that it made them outsiders, no matter how much they dominated. There was the Indian Wells incident, in which the sisters declined to participate in the tournament for 14 years after Venus withdrew from a match with Serena and the crowd subjected the family to boos and alleged verbal abuse. There are the banal attacks on Serena’s body image and femininity. There are the issues of her marketability in contrast to Maria Sharapova, a far inferior tennis player who, prior to being banned on doping charges, outpaced Serena in earnings everywhere but on the court. And then there are the daily racial slurs and innuendo that every black person of renown has to deal with. Her success is both an exemplar of the necessary and exhausting business of blackness—twice as good, twice as humble, twice as nice, twice as motherfucking amazing—that black people have to deal in just in order to survive and a glimmer of hope that on their Sisyphean struggle they might finally see the top of the slope. (emphasis is mine)