Wednesday, July 25, 2007

VENUS WILLIAMS . . . SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT . . .

The following is yet another great quote I found in the July 23, 2007 issue of JET magazine. According to the article on page 9, after her recent Wimbeldon victory, Venus Williams said:

"I was really motivated because no one picked me to win. They didn't even say, 'She can't win.' They weren't even talking about me."

I, too, noticed the lack of attention Venus received before, after and during the competition. The news media almost seemed to take an "oh,well" view of this accomplished athlete. I'd like to say, I don't understand . . . but if I did, I'd be lying (smile).

If Tiger Woods goes out on the golf course and breaks a nail, it's deemed a newsworthy item of the highest order. If Tiger were a Black woman (not that he has ever considered himself a Black man, of course *smile*) would he warrant the same kind of attention? Probably not.

I'll even go a step further and say, he most certainly WOULD NOT were he a dark-skinned Black woman. Yeah, I said it. Meant it too (smile).

No, racism, sexism and the "invisibility" of Black women is/are hardly anything new. Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" refrain is just as pertinent today as it was when she first uttered it back in 1851

I can only hope and pray that one day we'll stop being in denial about the "isms" that we've all internalized and that influence how we see or choose not to see certain people . . . and one another.

So, what are your thoughts on the subject?

9 comments:

Ehav Ever said...

Hello Lori,

This is one of the reasons that people who get into the millionaire ranks have to invest their money into media outlets and not just clothing businesses. There is nothing wrong with the clothing investments, but I think Oprah is a good example of someone who is invested in media outlets.

I am not one to claim I know where the William's sisters invest all of their money, but one way for them to keep their presence in the media may be to invest in areas of the media. TV shows, public service announcements, pushing to be spoke person's for different things, etc.

Then again, this may all depend on how much exposure they personally want from the media. For example, I once read an article about Too Short and how he did not do interviews except when he had a major album out. Whenever he had an album in circulation he would do interviews and such. When he didn't have an album out he stayed away from the media.

The attention Tiger woods gets may not exactly be a positive thing since the more attention one gets from the media the more paparazzi, the more they look for dirt, and the more they want to make conflict. There are always media looking for something on Tiger, just like when he made it known that he didn't consider himself black. Or when he got married, or when he a child, or when he is not winning ever tournament he is in. If he slips in any way the media is there to sink their teeth into it.

Maybe the most important thing for the William's sister is to continue to carve out a niche in the Tennis, continue to invest their money in good investments, and to help people in need. They be good role models for women privately without media exposure by talking at schools, working with children, and by investing in media that gives more positive images of women.

Lori said...

Ehav,
Thanks for the long, thoughtful comment. But the point I'm trying to make still stands--if Venus was someone lighter, whiter and/or male, she'd be on every magazine cover, tv talk show and commercial.

If I'm not mistaken, the William sisters already give talks at schools and the like. They had a book out not too long ago that promoted positive images.

Most super star athletes don't have to "court" the spotlight, they automatically draw it by their actions, both positive & negative, both on and off the court (or field).

Neither Venus nor Serena is all that camera shy, but somehow they are to blame for their invisibility and the lack of attention their achievements garner? Sorry, that's really kind of hard for me to buy.

Malcolm: said...

Hi Lori: I agree that the Williams's sisters skin tone plays a part in how they are perceived by the media. Also, remember the flack that Venus got over the beads in her hair?

I feel that there is also a double standard in regards to thes sister's business pursuits. I think it's smart of them to realize that there is life after tennis.

Before Justine Henin was eliminated from Wimbledon in the semis, the "experts" were saying she was the favorite and that Venus didn't have a chance. I am surprised that I didn't hear any haters claim that the only reason Venus won is because she didn't have to play Justine Henin.

Ehav Ever said...

Greetings Lori,

I hope you are well. I am not blaming them for their lack of exposure, what I am saying is that there is a reality that exists out there. It is a reality that requires a certain type of action to offset it. Owning stock in media companies has more advantages than just self-promotion. If they and other millionaires individually or collectively invested the right way they could change the face of the media. Besides, it may not be to their advantage to have the media spotlight on them as it is.

I think the most important thing is for them to do the things that you stated they are doing. They need to keep healthy, they need to keep winning, they need to keep investing, and they need to keep inspiring people. That is what is going to be remembered long after their careers in tennis are over. The inspiration they give to people, and the good deeds they do are WAY more important and longer lasting than being media darlings. Some of the most influential and positive people in this world are often the most passed over, and unknown.

I personally believe that the media is not interested in women or men (lighter or darker) who stand for something. I think the media wants people that they can either try to find some fault in or that they can build up and destroy as they please. The women that the media follows in sports often seem to be followed for the whole male bedroom fantasy purposes. There are a lot of lighter female athletes who don't get any attention from the media. Just like there are some male athletes lighter than Tiger that get no attention.

20 years from now, it would be a lot better if young girls can say, 20 years ago the William's sisters came by my school and inspired me to do my best. or I remember when I had no way to be a better person, but the Williams sister's showed up and saved my life. That is a lot better than in 20 years people look back and simply say I remember seeing every good and bad thing about the William's sisters plastered all over the media.

I once had a math teacher who was religious who told us that he makes more money than Michael Jordan. We all looked at each other and challenged him on this. He proceeded to go to the chalk board and draw a diagram of how Michael Jordon gets paid based on his own skills. He then drew of a diagram of how he has been teaching for over 30 years. He said each year he probably taught more than 3000 students and teachers in various capacities. He said that when ever those people go out into the world and make something of their lives (financially, spiritually, and personally), and that when they pass that legacy on to their children that is how he makes more money than Michael Jordon.

When you get a chance you should see the E Hollywood True Story about Emanuel Lewis. It was truly inspirational and he was someone who was not splattered all over the media, but the positive things he has done with his life outshine the 15 minutes of fame the media is often willing to give.

Sharon J. said...

Tennis seems to be a very snobbish sport. I think when the Williams sisters really began to take off, there was an element that resented their success. Maybe some saw them as "too black" in color and in style with their beaded cornrows. Then they have a strong black father. I think a lot of people would be happy if they would just go away quietly.

Lori said...

Sharon,
I agree. The media used to aim their focus on Mr. Williams. Pretty much they tried to write him off as arrogant and crazy while downplaying how his efforts helped them all live a better life.

Now that the girls are grown and can speak for themselves, the media either ignores them or turns their attention in another whole direction.

Lori said...

Malcolm,
Yes, I do remember the beads. I also remember people (Black folks in particular) coming right out and saying they thought the girls were unattractive.

The biases are so deep within some of us they we don't want to acknowledge them. Often times, I think it hurts too much.

Ehav,
I agree with some of your points. But I really do think if Venus had been involved in something negative, the media would had been all over her.

I agree that the media can often times be intrusive. But anyone who excells in any given field or profession is deserving of a spotlight for THOSE achievements. That's my point.

Ehav Ever said...

Greetings Lori,

I understand, but I really believe that the majority of the media is shallow to begin with. You can't expect much from shallowness. Just look at the attention Paris Hilton got for going to jail. Media that follows her situations is shallow and my book so I simply disregard it.

That is why I believe it is better that the media isn't into them. Besides if there is a void, then maybe that is something that can be filled by African American media. That's just me.

Ehav Ever

Ehav Ever said...

I must say that I have liked what I have heard about the Williams family ever since I heard about them. I always thought the Williams sister's were beautiful and I respected what I read about their father. That is why I always prayed that they invested their money the right way and stayed out of trouble.