By Rickey Hampton, The African-American Athlete
Shortly after reading a story about Madison Keys, the young tennis star, not identifying herself as black last summer, I learned about the shooting death of Alton Sterling, a black man, by a Baton Rouge, La., police officer.
Keys, the daughter of a white woman and a black man, says she doesn’t consider herself black, or white, for that matter.
“It’s something that’s always there obviously, but I’m very much right in the middle,” she said. “I don’t really think of it. I don’t really identify myself as white or African-American. I’m just me. I’m Madison.”
Good luck with that one, young lady.
Now, let me be clear, this is not an attack on Keys. She is 21-years-old. She is just a kid. She may have a tennis game good enough to make her one of the best in the world, but she is still like most 21-year-olds with a lot to learn about life.
With that in mind, I hope Ms. Keys understands what happened to Sterling, and how perilous things can be for blacks simply because they are black. There is no doubt in my mind that if Sterling was white, he would be alive. The same can be said for black men like Eric Garner, who was choked to death by police officers in New York, and Michael Brown who was gunned down by an officer in Ferguson, Mo., and Trayvon Martin, who was tracked down by a vigilante, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot by police in Cleveland. The list tragically goes on and on.
I hope Madison Keys understands that at any given moment someone she loves, who is black, could be the victim of their blackness. It is abundantly clear for a segment of America black lives don’t have the worth that white lives do.
I hope Ms. Keys understands that the fact she is a tennis star doesn’t mean a damn, thing.
Remember when tennis star James Blake was standing in front of a hotel in New York City, and was attacked by police? (video is linked below) All he was doing was just standing there.
I hope Keys will consider the distasteful rhetoric former President Barack Obama dealt with during his two terms in the Oval Office. During a July 4th parade last summer, a man constructed a mini-float on the back of a golf cart. There was caricature of President Obama being flushed down the toilet. The sign underneath the president says:
The creator of the float, 73-year-old Don Christy of Sheridan, Ind., swears he is not racist. By the way, it is no surprise that he is also a Trump supporter.
If President Obama couldn’t avoid race, I don’t know how young Ms. Keys plans to.
I wish Madison Keys nothing but the best. And I feel for her wanting to be just Madison. That would be so nice, but it is naïve, at best. Nonetheless, I will be cheering for her (unless she is playing Venus or Serena) when she takes the court in future matches.
I will cheer her on, just as I cheer Tiger Woods on the golf course, even though he doesn’t acknowledge his African descent.
I will cheer because they are representing black people, even if they are too naïve to know it themselves. Linked is the video of tennis star James Blake being attacked by New York police for no reason: