`”In sports such as tennis and golf, previously understood as the final bastions of white privilege and segregation, the success of Serena and Venus Williams and Tiger Woods has helped to both redefine the boundaries of black sporting achievement and served to reshape those sports most associated with the old forms of racial exclusion.” The sport of tennis became desegregated in 1940 followed by the desegregation of golf in the 1950s. As stated in the quote above, athletes such as Venus and Serena Williams and Tiger Woods, have reshaped these sports that once excluded black athletes from participating. Both Serena and Tiger Woods continue to dominate in a sport largely played by white athletes and have been ranked number one in their respective sports. The reshaping of these sports by these athletes have taken on the form of them diminishing the idea that blacks are not able to engage and excel in these intelligent sports through the way that they respond to racism. Specifically, in tennis, Serena Williams has redefined the ability of black athletes and continues to pave a pathway for youth to enter tennis.
The idea of tennis and golf being the final bastions of white privilege and segregation stems from the overarching idea of white supremacy in sports. These are the last sports to upholds white dominance and old views of athletes of color. Golf and Tennis, unlike other sports such as basketball, are perceived as sports that require an immense amount of intelligence. An amount of intelligence that white America believes black people do not possess. Because these sports have been dominated by white players for so long, it is important to acknowledge that these African-American figures have made their way into the game and made names for themselves.
When blacks began dominating these intellectual sports, white athletes tried to attribute their successes to their physical strength. They denied the fact that these athletes had the mental capacity to plan and execute their moves while playing. At one point Serena’s gender was brought into question in an attempt to understand why she was so good. This is similar to the Usain Bolt text that we read for class where his success was attempted to be attributed to his physical strength or the environment of Jamaica. It has become evident that white people will continue to ignore that athlete of color work just as hard as they do to excel in their sport, and instead try to find biological answers to their conspiracies.
Serena Williams has become an icon not only in the sport of tennis but for young athletes around the world. While playing, Serena constantly has to deal with critiques of her body that prolong racist notions that black women are hyper-masculine and unattractive. However, she has made it known that she is an athlete who will not be forced to be quiet and won’t accept those racist projections onto her body without speaking back. Serena promotes body positivity and refuses to lose her sense of individuality in a society where white people want her to succumb to their notions of her abilities. In these instances where she faces overt commentary, “She Serena gives us the whole range of what it is to be human, and there are those who can’t beat it, who can’t tolerate the humanity or an ordinary extraordinary person.” (New York Times article “The Greatest”, the author, Claudia Rankine). Those who can’t tolerate it really can’t tolerate how she is acting against the “normative” roles of black women in sports.
Serena has also reshaped tennis by serving as an example for the youth on how they should act when faced with adversaries. There is an expectation that Serena is “good” while achieving greatness. Rankine states, “The notable difference between black excellence and white excellence is white excellence is achieved without having to battle racism.” Through her success, Serena has forced white Americans to see black excellence for what it really is. She shows that as a black athlete, or a black person in general, it is okay to show emotion and that you don’t have to be forgiving of racist attacks. Wants to open the door for the next person to be great. In addition to being a phenomenon, she has come out of a long lineage of African Americans who battled for the right to be excellent in a space the privileges whiteness and continues to encourage the youth to win. She has provided a new script where winning does not mean that you have cured racism, but that you have worked hard to excel and you have succeeded. She wants us to realize that racism will be everywhere but not to focus on it. We should continue to excel and reward ourselves for successes, but also do not let anyone tell us how we should act when successful.
Overall, the involvement of black athletes in tennis and golf has created racial discourse. However, through their responses to this discourse, they have in some way reshaped the way that white America views black athletes over the years. They have shown that there is difference in black people and that we do in fact possess the qualifications needed to excel in these white-dominated sports. We have done it in the past and shall continue to do so. They have taught the black youth that that although we may not have been originally welcomed into sports, we still can excel and strive to be great for ourselves.
Colin Kaepernick is an American football quarterback who is currently a free agent. Kaepernick played college football at the University of Nevada, where he was named the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Offensive Player of the Year twice, and a member of the predominantly black fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi. During his time in the league, he managed the 17th-best quarterback rating among starters while coming back from injury and his interception percentage was sixth. But why has this great athlete become the most polarizing figure in American sports? All because of his recent protesting to bring about awareness on the crisis’ occurring around the nation. Both articles, “The awakening of Colin Kaepernick” (The New York Times) and “The NFL has effectively blackballed Colin Kaepernick” (The Washington Post) capture Kaepernick’s influence on society and attempt to analyze where it may stem from. Both articles argue that Kaepernick’s inability to get signed may be due to him speaking out on these “sensitive issues.”
The article ” NFL has effectively blackballed Colin Kaepernick” argues that Kaepernick’s protest of the killings of unarmed black men in the US by police is not the reason why he is in this predicament. It argues that Kaepernick’s choice of the National Anthem as his platform for protest is the reason why he is unemployed. We have learned that football is a sport infused with traditional American values which do not include the lives of black people. It has also been recognized as the sport of middle and working-class white Americans. With the backbone of football being patriotic white Americans, Kaepernick’s disturbance of their norms brought a harsher aspect to the sport that was intended to be an escape for its people. However, because he was such a disturbance, this article argues that that is why he is unable to be signed. There is definitely a racial aspect to Kaepernick’s predicament because the article stated “But there is a tacit support given that Goodell verbally welcomed Michael Sam as the league’s first openly gay draft prospect after Sam revealed his sexuality, which was followed by the Rams choosing him and the Cowboys giving him another look while he was cut by the Rams.” It is interesting to see how the league would sign an openly gay player to show the world that they are not discriminative, however when someone like Kaepernick speaks on the issues of other oppressed groups he is punished.
The article “The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick”, on the other hand, is longer in length and follows Kaepernick’s relationship with advocacy over the course of his life. Kaepernick was born to a single white mother and black father in Milwaukee but was soon adopted by the Kaepernick’s. Finding an identity was a big part of Kaepernick’s life because he faced racial prejudices from both sides of his racial identity. At times, he would get racist treatment from white people because he was a black quarterback, then other times receive racist treatment because he was raised by a white family. As he grew older he developed a desire to learn more about his blackness and wanted to educate people on the injustices occurring around him. In early 2016, he began to take to Twitter and Instagram with posts designed to make people aware of what was going on in the world. He did not want the attention to be on him but wanted to spark the fire of revolution in those who followed him. This article, unlike the other, does not take a particular stance on the debate of why Colin Kaepernick has not been signed yet. It states, that “Everybody has some reason that they haven’t signed Colin Kaepernick. Maybe they have two or three quarterbacks they think are better. Maybe they don’t want the distraction. Maybe they don’t want to pay the money. But it’s hard to say ‘they,’ like all 32 owners think exactly the same. That’s ridiculous. That’s what made this really complex.”
Despite these differences, both articles show how athletes are viewed in the league and the little room that they have to be themselves. “The Awakening of Colin Kaepernick” stated, “N.F.L and its franchise owners They bathe their games in overtly patriotic ceremonies and discourage players, mostly hidden behind masks and uniforms of armor, from individual acts of showmanship” This is no different than what we have seen before when studying the relationships between race and sports. The owners of these businesses don’t promote individuality and this is no different than when African Americans first emerged in sports. Even the Washington Post article states that Colin Kaepernick is a newer version of basketball player Craig Hodges. It is evident how these systems of oppression in sports have not changed over time, people are still disadvantaged due to their race and the ideas they endorse.
In conclusion, it is clear to see that there are still parallels between sports in the past and the present. There remain a political and racial aspect of sports that holds the future of black athletes in the hands of their league owners. Both articles address the debate over Kaepernick’s unemployment but I believe that the Washington Post article is more effective in assessing the controversy. I agree that the NFL’s coldness toward Kaepernick is not accidental. If things are not in accordance with their standards then it is to be shunned. I find it impossible that not one team is willing to take him after seeing how great of an asset he can be to a team, even when some teams have numerous quarterbacks. Due to the huge emphasis on patriotism in football and Kaepernick using the American symbol of patriotism as a platform for issues that footballs targeted audience feels unassociated to, has made himself undesirable. It is the pressure that comes with signing an athlete who is experiencing the repercussions of speaking on issues that are sensitive, that makes it difficult for him to get signed. None of these teams want to be associated with Kaepernick in fear of hurting their chances of success in the league. This goes to show how there will always remain a political aspect of sports. I have concluded that sports will never be a platform for black athletes to speak out on injustices and have it work in their favor. Despite freedom of speech, employees in this country will continue to be punished by their employers due to their political views or activities.
The extensive racism and discrimination faced by Blacks and other ethnic minorities under the apartheid system were not unlike the segregation faced by African-Americans under Jim Crow. There are several similarities between the apartheid regime and Jim Crow laws, however, there are also differences. Specifically, there are similarities between the environment of both these systems that excluded people of color from their rights and participation in various activities.
The similarities between Jim Crow Laws in America and Apartheid in South Africa both pertain to their cruelty towards blacks. Blacks could not participate in public activities such as sports and experienced horrible working and academic conditions. In addition to this, blacks and whites were not allowed to have sexual relations with different races to minimize the amount of interracial marriage and multiracial children. Both the United States and South Africa had laws put in place to keep certain communities impoverished. Black students were forced to attend different schools than whites and these schools lacked proper resources. By doing this they were sure to keep the black community behind both intellectually and economically.
Although Jim Crow laws in America and Apartheid in South Africa treating blacks similarly, they also treat them differently. One of the most important differences was that apartheid was a national system while Jim Crow was a regional system. In South Africa, blacks were stripped of their citizenship whereas, in places with Jim Crow, blacks were stripped of their natural human rights. While there were racism and prejudice in America, in South Africa blacks and other people of color were forced to carry their IDs around with them. There were also laws established that prevented people from escaping the regime, unlike in the United States blacks were able to travel to the north and find freedom there.
One of the most important similarities is that blacks were not permitted engage in sports, despite their abilities, due to this racial segregation. All athletes of color were prohibited from playing in major leagues. Despite this similarity, there were differences. There was, for instance, during the Jim Crow era there was never a law that prohibited blacks from major league baseball; The league owners just agreed not to hire any blacks. Whereas, in South America, everyone who was nonwhite was legally disenfranchised and could not participate in anything dominated by blacks. However, whites could enter any space that they wanted.
Over the course of this semester while taking this class I have observed that there are not many differences between apartheid, Jim Crow, and our current society. Blacks continue to be discriminated against in the workplace, in the education system, and in sports. There are policies put in place in these facilities to keep blacks impoverished just as in the past. I suggest that we as students who have access to quality education to educate others on what we learn and hope to someday change the system.