At a moment when I wanted so badly to celebrate Serena Williams for all she’d accomplished in her career, I found myself utterly disgusted as well as ashamed for her as she danced her little dance on the Wimbledon court. Ashamed! Maybe I was overreacting a little; was it really as bad as I was making it out to be in my own mind? It has become popularized by hip-hop music to the point where I’ve seen young children of all races trying to “C-Walk” as it’s known. Maybe I’m taking this too personally because I saw the destruction of the 1980’s as a young black child, just trying to make it to the 1990’s. Maybe I should “get with it” and let it slide as a momentary exhibition of complete euphoria… should I? Should I ignore the way it made me feel because something with sinister roots has become so much a part of popular culture, that its original meaning may be lost on those too young to remember? Maybe… but I can’t. Just like I can’t ignore the feeling I get when I hear young people of all races using the N word like it’s the only way they know to punctuate a sentence.
I really wanted to congratulate Serena Williams on her career grand-slam with an Olympic gold medal as the cherry on top. Instead, I will congratulate her on becoming the second most famous S. Williams in my Google search of the topic. Stanley “Tookie” Williams wasn’t the founder of the Crips, but he is credited for making the small Los Angeles street gang into the worldwide phenomena they are today. When Venus and Serena were growing up in Compton, California, the Crips were making life hell for its residents with the sale of drugs and the use of guns… or was it the use of drugs and the sale of guns? So when popular media says to forgive the celebration, I scrutinize the perpetrator. If any other tennis player had done this, I know I would have laughed them off as extremely silly and left it at that. I can’t laugh this off, not from a woman who grew up knowing exactly what that dance meant… exactly who that dance glorified and where she decided to do it. Congratulations Serena, you made Tookie Williams proud!
-Joseph Haas Contact Joseph Haas and follow the conversation on Twitter @jerseyhaas