Black women are too aggressive. They are vicious, nasty, neck-swinging, over-sexed, amazons who utilize every available opportunity to tell off anyone in their path. They hate black men and they even manage to find creative ways to hate one another. We’ve now come up with a one-dimensional way of describing an incredibly diverse group around the world. That is what the world does to black women, and it is the same thing they do with black men. Personally, I’m getting sick of it.
In our natural aversion to such blatantly biased characterizations like the one presented in the first paragraph, we then go to the other extreme: Black women are all perfect, beautiful, loving, enlightened creatures who can do no wrong. All the problems of the black family belong solely to those “trifling brothers who just can’t get it together,” and even when black women appear to be wrong, it’s just because the rest of us “are too weak to handle strong and intelligent sistuhs.” Sorry my friends, stereotyping is wrong, even when it works in your favor.
Serena Williams’ tirade during the US Open on Saturday was offensive and sad to watch. She embarrassed herself and her family by threatening to “shove the ball down the f***ing throat” of a line judge during an internationally televised event. At the same time, Serena was in an extremely tense situation, the judge made a horrible call, and this was one of the biggest matches of her career. The judge had no business making that kind of call at that time, especially one that was ultimately incorrect. Serena simply said exactly what I certainly would have been thinking myself.
What must be made clear, however, is that Serena William’s actions were not an accurate reflection of Serena, and they are certainly not a reflection of all black women around the world. Serena has no track record of this kind of behavior, and any broad racial interpretations of the incident should be left in your pocket. Serena had a right to be angry and she went overboard: end of story.
We need to stop putting black women in a box. They don’t all belong in the socially dirty box, and they don’t belong in the pure, sweet and innocent box. If a box is to be built, it should be customized for the individual. Perhaps we should remember that Black women are simply human like the rest of us.
The case of Caster Semenya certainly carried some common ground with that of Serena Williams, but only to the extent that they were both black women accused of being shockingly hyper-masculine. In Semenya’s case, she actually has internal testes producing 3 times more testerone than the typical female runner. So, public concerns about Semenya are biological, while those of Serena Williams are social.
At the same time, both women are involuntary representatives of a group that has been historically abused and mischaracterized as being “unlady-like” and too aggressive. The public’s reaction to Semenya’s gender test is symptomatic of the pain felt by women of color throughout the world. Whether she is found to have mixed gender (which appears to be the case) is irrelevant; what is most relevant is that racism and sexism make us incapable of trusting the motivations of powerful white men when they take something valuable away from us. Injustice and stereotyping are the problems, not the test itself.
One added concern is the inability of African Americans to express justifiable outrage, as Serena did during her tennis match. She went over the line and broke the rules, but I can’t wait to hear the analysts translate her outburst into some kind of pathology that would not be thrust onto male hockey players. If John McEnroe can spend an entire career overreacting to bad calls, then so can Serena Williams. Let her pay her fine and move on with her career, there’s really nothing else to discuss.