It doesn’t take much for a sista to evoke controversy–or utter ignorance–from doing the most harmless of things in her moment of glory.
Just ask Serena Williams.
After spanking Maria Sharapova in two quick sets on Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Saturday, she rejoiced in her victory, in part, by dancing the Crip Walk or the C-Walk.
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Yes, it is a dance with roots in Williams’ hometown of Compton, Calif., where the Crip street gang choreographed the moves back in the 1970s. Since that time, the gang affiliations connected with the moves have long been lost on people worldwide who see it as nothing more than a cool dance.
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No one cited crime stats when Justin Timberlake offered his version of the dance during a concert back in 2007. Check him out in the video below:
Watch Justin Timberlake C-Walking
(I favor Serena’s version.)
And you know about that long-hailed tradition of the Olympic touch run? A man by the name of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler‘s second-in-command, came up with the idea as a propaganda tool to celebrate the Nazi regime. Almost no one in 2012 would ever trace it back to Hitler just as most folks did not trace Serena’s dancing to gang violence.
To me, she did nothing more than exercise an exuberant rush of joy over earning a gold medal on the world’s biggest stage. However, a host of critics saw it differently and have since lined up to analyze her C-Walk celebration through their skewed perception of Black pathology.
Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke took to Twitter to, in a rather patronizing tone, assail Serena for being out of touch with her roots for performing the dance.
Serena C-walking at Wimbledon only shows how long she's been away from home, separated from violence and death associated with that dance— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) August 4, 2012
Oh, yeah. And he continues:
Isn't there some kind of dance done by multi-millionaires who live in exclusive South Florida neighborhoods? That's shud be Serena's dance— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) August 4, 2012
Plaschke clearly hasn’t seen video of First Lady Michelle Obama doing “The Dougie.” Oh and Serena lost her sister Yetunde Price to gang violence, so I’m sure she isn’t as “removed from the death and violence” he “associated” with the dance and her hometown.
Then enters conservative blogger Debbie Schlussel who prefaced her criticisms of Serena by saying she abhorred the attacks levied at Gabby Douglas over her hair.
“Yup, that’s what we need representing America, a Gold Medalist who, upon winning, glorifies hardened criminals who murder each other–and innocent Americans–for sport,” Schlussel said of Serena’s Crip Walk dancing.
I find it interesting that few people have associated U.S Swimmer Ryan Lochte‘s red, white, and blue grill with the glorification of criminality. A quick Google search shows some of the following headlines pertaining to Lochte’s diamond-studded smile: “In His Mouth, It’s Olympic Metal” (The Minneapolis Tribune), “The Flashing Smile” (The New York Times); “Lochte’s Post-Race Grill Shines With Stars And Stripes” (USA Today).
Ironically, one of the stories that popped up reports that Lochte is hanging out with Ludacris at the Olympic Games. I wonder if the ATL-born rapper is teaching Lochte the “Bankhead Bounce?”
The truth of the matter is that Serena Williams is a victim of a much larger issue: the hyper-exaggerations of Black female images. When Michelle Obama gave her husband, then-Senator Barack Obama, a loving fist bump before a stump speech back in 2008, the mostly White media went bonkers over what the gesture meant.
Fox News notoriously described it as the “terrorist fist jab.” The New Yorker, the premier literary beacon of White high-brow liberalism, devoted its July 21, 2008 front cover to an image of her dressed in militant clothing and styled in a large, puffy Afro. Obama was depicted alongside her on the cover as a militant Muslim.
No matter how immaculately the future First Lady dressed, or articulately she spoke, the media spun the “angry Black woman” narrative well into the 2008 campaign season.
Simply put: the sista evoked controversy by simply being…a sista.
And let us not forget about Don Imus and his “nappy-headed hoes” commentary of the Rutgers basketball team back in 2007.
After 16-year-old Gabby Douglas made history by becoming the first African American to win gold in the all-around event in gymnastics, folks focused less on the gold around her neck and more on the strands on her head.
(Those insults were mostly hurled by self-hating Negros whose words were no better than Don Imus.)
But I have to say that the young teenage phenom responded to the onslaught of ignorant commentary excellently.
“Nothing is going to change,” she said. “I’m going to wear my hair like this during beam and bar finals. You might as well just stop talking about it.”
Serena’s response to her critics’ foolish C-Walk commentary has been even better. She hasn’t talked about it at all.