Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Politics of Attitude: Black Women on Trial

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University, AOL Black Voices 

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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Tennis fan 101 said...

What a bad piece of journalism. We are looking at an athelete who has played for years and has NEVER EVER had a dispute, consistenely demonstrated discpiline at all levels, and your analysis is that her Compton upbringing and the need for discipline is an issue? I assume that you did thorough analysis of the data - the number of games she played, the number of times she had an outburst and based on this you drew that conslusion. How do you explain her Compton upbringing based on the data that for approximately 99% of the games she played, there never was this need for discipline? Do you attribute this to Compton? This article and the conslusion is so rediculous that I am amazed that at your level, analsyis and conclusions are so mediocre

Anonymous said...

Dr Watkins,
I'm still tryig to figure out your arcane racial twist on misbehavior. If I read you correctly, blacks in sports can be obnoxious, say what they please including threatening referees or judges, and react in any way they want, because they all come from Compton or similar places where that type of behavior is completely acceptable. On the other hand, whites cannot do do the same as they presumably know better and it's considered unacceptable in white society. Are you nuts? Does Syracuse U. allow you to spew out that racial bias nonsense?
You need to go back to basics, Dr Watkins. Bad behavior is bad behavior. How about just demanding proper etiquette no matter your race and leave it at that.

Whipsnard Q. Bimblemann, III, Esq. said...

Dr. Bee Dub, nice to see your blog got a shout out on aol.com, but dang, homie, get your facts straight and quit being a racist black prick! You dog this girl for being raised in Compton and don't even check the facts, yo! From the age 9 till today the girl has been living in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. That's a far cry from Compton, CA. Maybe one day your Piled Higher and Deeper will be worth the paper it's written on. Probably not...