Monday, October 19, 2009

Dr. Boyce on Serena Williams

by Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Serena Williams has been listed as a headliner for this year's Australian Open. The problem is that it's not clear whether she'll be allowed to play.

Because of a recent outburst in which she threatened a line judge, Williams may be banned from at least one Grand Slam tournament. According to published reports, Williams told the judge, "You don't know me. You better be right. I swear to God I'm going to take this ball and shove it down your throat."Given that a ball going down your throat might actually kill you, the judge felt that Serena had threatened her life. Then again, Serena's from Compton, a town that has become famous for finding creative ways to kill people. Serena does not, however, need to take "the hood" with her all the way to Australia.

To make matters more interesting, Serena recently got naked for the cover of ESPN magazine, certifying her status as an iconic and thought-provoking figure for the early 21st century. These two events, plus the fact that she just happens to be one of the most dominant female tennis players in history, makes her the kind of woman we'll all be talking about for the next 100 years. Our great-grandkids won't be talking much about the boring apolitical figure called Michael Jordan. We'll congratulate Tiger Woods for being the first incredibly rich black man to consistently beat the crap out of the arrogant guys at the country club. Serena Williams' name, though, will come up in classes on feminist theory, history and sociology. Like Muhammad Ali, Serena is becoming bigger than her sport, and my greatest hope is that her ability to transcend tennis is guided by a desire to serve all humanity, and not just herself. Her nude body on the cover of ESPN is her way of yelling to the world that she is more than a tennis player. I agree that she is.

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Anonymous said...

Dr. Boyce,

I am trying to teach my kids to be tolerant of all. How is your comment about Tiger 'consistantly beating the crap out of arrogant white men at the country club' not a racist comment?

Anonymous said...

If I were that line judge, Ms. Williams actions would have taken her from the Tennis Court to the District court as they were clearly a misdameanor in NYS. Yet because she is a woman of color you EXCUSE it. Your logic enables any person of color, who grew up in a economically depressed area, to commit a crime and I quote: "because of her Compton upbringing...African Americans are more likely to forgive her for her 'Seemingly' (you actually WROTE "seemingly")agressive behavior." One Problem Dr. Watkins: If that behavior was accepted if not expected in her cultural upbringing, Then why hasn't Venus demonstrated it, EVER? They grew up in the same home, and yet Venus is gracious in victory and defeat, for which she makes no excuses. Serena has an excuse for every loss and with the exception of her sister has NEVER been congratulatory to a competitor. Serena Williams is a great tennis player. Beyond that she is a spoiled brat that could take lessons in humanity from her sister. As for you, Dr. Watkins. A man of your letters should realize that to excuse violent threats because of 'culural norms' is a very slippery slope. The natural progression from that attitude is to excuse violent ACTS because of cultural norms. Let me pose this question to you Dr. Watkins: What would your attitude be if a rural white teenager in Mississippi used this same rationale in defense of an attack on a black teenager that had insulted him in front of his white peers. "I shot that'Nigger' because we need to 'keep em in line' down here" How is that any different from excusing aggression for being raised in Compton? As an alumnus of Syracuse I am very disheartened to learn that the University that I love is providing you a pulpit to Widen the racial gap that men of color like myself worked so hard to narrow in a time when it was neither wise nor particularly safe to do so. Until men like yourself stop making excuses for the destructive behavior of our young brothers and sisters, there will always be terms like "acting black." Our nations President is a Black man. Why can't that term be a connotation in reference to him? As long as 'activists' enable negative behaviors among our people, it CAN"T!