Serena Williams Takes a Facebook Stand on Racial Injustice

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Wimbledon 2012 Day 10 / Katherine Shann

September 28, 2016; Washington Post

Professional American tennis player Serena Williams has ranked No. 1 in the world on six occasions since 2002. She holds the most major titles (male or female) for singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined. Williams is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and her foundation is focused on education in the U.S. and internationally. Yesterday, she made news by expressing her dismay over racial injustice in a heartfelt Facebook post.

“As Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘There comes a time when silence is betrayal.’”

She concluded her post with these simple words stacked on top of each other: “I won’t be silent.”

This is a new mindset for Williams. At the Summer Olympics, a reporter citing Black Lives Matter asked Williams if she felt she was playing for the cause. Williams replied that she and the USA team were only focused on willing medals.

I don’t involve myself in politics. We can’t focus on any movements, especially if they happen in the States. Right now we’re focused on the world community. I think it’s really important for me to pass the message of love and unity across all nations. It doesn’t matter what race.

Des Bieler, writing for the Washington Post, draws a comparison to LeBron James, “who, like, Williams, rose from poverty to achieve enormous wealth and fame through sports, spoke of similar concerns Monday.”

“I’m not here to ramp on America, that’s not me,” James added. “I’m not a politician, but I’ve lived this life and I’ve got a family, and what scares me is my kids growing up in this society right now, where innocent lives are being taken and it seems like nothing is being done.”

Amid all the noise and confusion and hurt, there occasionally arises a new voice that must be heard, if only because the person speaking has everything to lose and nothing to gain by taking a stand for justice. One such authentic and brave voice belongs to Serena Williams.—James Schaffer