Check Your Privilege at the Door and Listen to Black Women

As if being black and woman is not enough, the media coverage only amplifies the point so many of us try to make when we talk about, taking up spaces.

Over the past few weeks, the stellar tennis star has been nitpicked by those who are “on the outside looking in” over her choice of clothing, her body and most recently, the use of her voice in reply to an umpire who wrongfully accused her of cheating.

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Of course, it is hard to understand the frustration that women of color face when the one telling you that you life saving catsuit is banned from the game is a white man who will never birth a child or understand that blood clots are a thing that happens to you. What is a woman to do in an arena that sees you as threatening but will depict your opponent as humble and deserving?

Or, what about the men who get nearly physical with umpires and referees and are painted as “letting go of anger” because, you know, that’s just a man’s nature. Sexism in sports and any arena for that matter is and has been prevalent for as long as time can tell. However, this all came to a head this weekend when Serena rightfully explained to an umpire that him, fining her for cheating was uncalled for and blatantly sexist.

However, media once again misses the mark of her words and calls out her actions as “sensitive” or “whining” or even so far to create distasteful newspaper comics that over exaggerate her physical features to depict her as angry. The problem here, is not only that Serena was fined for cheating that never happened, but instead is being shown as another angry black woman.

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A narrative that so many of us are given when we decide to stand up for ourselves in rooms that command us to sit down and be complacent.

This issue started far before Serena and continues to show how inherent sexism is for men in positions of power and those who give themselves more power than is actually warranted, particularly when it comes to women of color.

In so many words...check your privilege at the door and listen to black women. We will not be silenced nor will we be a martyr to our careers, even those that make us the greatest athlete in the world. Black women, most often are not seen as human, incapable of “feeling” and are generally shut out of important conversations that give us the slightest opinion.

The truth is, we are not incapable of emotion, in fact we are some of the most emotional people you will ever know however, we cannot show it often because we have to fight for so much just to get the smallest ounce of respect; and no, it is not that easy to just show how you feel when the support thereafter is not always the greatest.

Basically, black womanhood is complex.

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Many of the conversations that surround us in the circulating media are never the ones where we are given the space to elaborate on our experiences and when given a chance to truly express how we feel, it is brushed off and shadowed with assumptions that have never been translated by us.

It is not merely enough to support our creative culture as a way to “listen” to black women. True support comes from killing the socially harmful caricatures and memes and using your privilege to have a seat and listen to what really happens in our world. Use your privilege to help deconstruct the obsession and to know when you simply do not understand.

Serena, your right to demand an apology is not only valid but something that you have taught many black women over the last 48-hours. You have every right to show the emotions that others have described as weak or angry. You are human. It is a lesson to your daughter and to all of those standing guard in your defense. You have been heard.