At a recent exhibition tennis match in Brazil, the former world number-1-ranked female player, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, stuffed courtside towels into her clothing in order to parody the curves of fellow former world number-1-ranked (currently world number-3-ranked) US player Serena Williams. Ms Wozniacki's opponent in the match was currently world number-2-ranked Maria Sharapova. Ms Williams was nowhere near the incident... the relevance of which will become more apparent momentarily.
Click here for the story; and here's the astonishing video:
Caroline Wozniacki parodies Serena Williams's curves, during a Brazilian exhibition tennis match, by stuffing towels into her clothing. Surprisingly, some question whether it was racist.
Of course, by "curves," in this case, it's obvious that we're talking about the kinds of curves found most characteristically-commonly on black women. I'd have written the more politically-correct "African American" instead of "black," except that such curves are characteristic of non-American African-descended women, too. Plus, though it may seem incongruous in this article about racism, I've long thought that the term "African American" is just going too far; that even blacks were okay with being called that, just as whites are okay with being called that, until some over-compensating white thought-up "African American" as a means of taking political correctness to a ludicrous extreme. Sadly, it caught-on. But, alas, I now digress; and let not any of that, in any case, detract from my point-in-chief, here.
Note the single-quotes around the word "racist" in the headline in the above-linked-to-story... as if there were doubt. Additionally, comments beneath articles about the incident on conservative websites are, expectedly, wondering why all the fuss; why anyone thinks it's racist. Here's what I posted on one of them:
The headline asks...
Was Tennis Player's Impersonation of Serena Williams Racist?
...the answer to which is, unequivocally, "yes."
And I'm just so disappointed in some of the comments, here, which evidence their authors' seeming not to understand why. I could get into a whole socio-political dissertation on it; I could cite examples and studies; and I could make references to other similar stunts from the past and quote how the African American community reacted...
...but there's a far better acid test: The young, clueless and mean-spirited Ms Wozniacki should try pulling this stunt right in front of the Williams sisters and their family...
...or, better yet, in front of the Starbucks at 71st and Stony Island Avenue in Chicago.
In either case, trust me, the young Ms Wozniacki would be summarily disabused of her big-assed wrong-headedness -- and in the latter case, possibly her very life -- in a big-assed hurry.
That, I suspect, would settle the debate, forthwith.
And from the "don't pee on my leg and then tell me it's raining," department: Shame on the posters, here, who're pretending they don't get it. It's 2012, for godsake, not 1963. No one who hasn't fallen on his/her head too many times in life doesn't understand, just intuitively, what's wrong with this picture... at least no one who isn't doing it intentionally. And those who do obviously have racism deeply embedded and ingrained in them; and are likely part of the backward, backwoods, ultra-conservative movement to return America not merely back to the way things were before the New Deal, but, as the New York Times's Paul Krugman once wrote, "back to the 19th century, and maybe even to the antebellum era."
Here's a cartoon and photo that some whites, back then, thought was funny...
...and here's who was doing all the laughing:
The white conservative clueless will argue that to take what Ms Wozniacki did to such an extreme is ludicrous; but from such was derived the very definition of the term "slippery slope." Without zero-tolerance of all racist behavior, no one will agree on "too far's" demarcation point.
When trying to assess and appreciate the inherent wrongness of an event like this, a better and more effect exercise is to not try to figure out what's wrong with it in current society but, rather, what kind of society it would be were it right.
Would anyone really want to live in a world where what Ms Wozniacki did was okay? Really?
Almost as disappointing as Ms Wozniacki's behavior is Ms Sharapova's. Hopefully, that she was so stunned by, and caught-up in the crowd's seeming acceptance of the incident explains why she went ahead and kept playing, without protest. Hopefully, if she'd had her wits about her, she'd have refused, on principle. That she didn't -- especially if she doesn't subsequently decry Wozniacki's behavior -- will make my stock in her go down, indeed.
Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com