Tuesday, August 7, 2012

London Olympics Entry #4: Crip Walk Controversy, Serena Williams and the Gold

When Justin Bieber, a Canadian who wears sagging pants (a fashion style that is said to come from prison culture), tweets Missy Franklin for winning a gold, it is called sweet teen spirit. When volleyball players sport itty-bitty-titty bikini's in front of the royal palace, it's called a proper uniform.

When the English Queen does a skit with the most misogynistic and man-whore spy in the world, the director is considered brilliant, while the queen was crowned as the memorable crowd favorite of the opening of the London Olympics.

When a tennis player smashes their racket to the ground like a drug-riddled heavy metal rocker, that's just great sportsmanship.

But when Serena celebrates with a dance that has become a crossover move that was created and popularized out of urban culture, she is signified as a trashy representation of the USA. Like her father said many years ago, the people in Compton will be celebrating with their 40 ounces and Chronic.

But eff'em, let me unpack this complex cultural moment that has contributed to this shift in Olympic culture.

In an unconscious moment of resistance, Serena Williams, in her own way, threw up her own black fists. While NBC covered her matches at ungodly hours, and did very minimal in highlighting her slaying top players, Williams decided to be unapologetic for the on-court beat downs with a victory dance from her own ethos.

And by the way, she is one of the few black women to win golds, and one of three African American women---her sister Venus, and trailblazers Whilma Rudolph who won three individual golds share this history.

Williams who is a huge hip hop fan, and a product of a hip hop generation, did what emcees do when they win, they celebrate in a braggadocio manner.

And as a child who grew up about a 10 minute drive from where Serena was reared, I know exactly Serena's POV. It has nothing to do with gangs. This is our native American black Angeleno war dance, a dance of strength and champion.

For several seconds, she displayed her connection with an aspect of black American culture and defied the Euro/Amero Bourgeois expectations of the lily white culture of tennis player. She bowed in victory with grace and swagger.

She has never apologized for her grunts, flashy outfits, and assertive court behavior. She and her sister were booed for years, their appearance has been scathingly critiqued, and oft times, US announcers imply their favor towards a Williams opponent.

Serena, no matter how many titles and now a gold that you win, you will be accepted as a brilliant and phenomenal player no earlier than 2073. So in the meantime, hop, step, hop. I celebrate you.

3 ish talking intellectuals holla at a sista:

Mildred said...

The folks who are criticizing her know full well that she has no connection to gangs.

And the dance itself reflects African dance patterns. Where is Jacqueline Djedje when you need her?

LOL. The announcers don't imply their favoritism. They're pretty blatant with it.

We celebrate her now and that's what should matter most to us and to her.

Ensayn1 said...

LOL...I love this. "Native American/black Angeleno" (southern Cali) culture! I love how you expressed this. Being a child of Southern Cali, born and raised in Southeast San Diego to be exact, I loved the idea of Serena expressing not only black culture, but specifically LA/Southern California black culture. Thanks for explaining my feeling in your post that I couldn't or didn't in mine. I was feelin' kinda Southeast Daygo when I wrote my post...LOL!

Peace sistah!

Eco.Soul.Intellectual said...

Mildred and Ensayn 1 thank you for understanding my perspective. And yes, southern Cali got its own unique experience. Shout out to Diego (Daygo) yup.