Former World No. 1 Serena Williams took to Facebook to address the issue of rising gun violence against the African-American community recently. With a number of police shootings rife across the country, racial profiing is a serious problem that the community have had to deal with.
A champion for both women’s and black rights worldwide, Williams shared a poignant anecdote today, discussing her 18-year-old nephew, who she specifies is African-American.
Worried that her nephew was not abiding by the speed limit, Williams asked him to check - a thought that worried her in wondering whether her nephew would be at risk fo being shot.
The World No. 2 recalled in her post the tragic killing of Minnesota native Philando Castile, whose fiancee, Diamond Reynolds, watched her partner be gunned down by a policeman in Falcon Heights, near Minneapolis.
During the incident, Castile was pulled over by a policeman for a broken taillight on his car, following which he informed the policeman that although he possessed a ‘concealed carry’ permit - which, as the name suggests, allows gun owners to carry their arms on their person as long as they are not visible, he was only reaching for his driver's license.
With Reynolds’ four-year-old daughter seated in the back of the car, a policeman shot Castile, a school nutrition and dietetics adviser, four times in the ribs and back – with Reynolds capturing the entire incident on video.
The shooting of Castile came only a day after Alton Sterling, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiania, was shot and killed despite having been restrained. That incident had been caught on camera, with several bystanders witnessing the incident.
A number of figures worldwide have spoken about the increasingly worrying statistics of African-Americans being shot and killed without reason. Williams herself has been no stranger to racism. Serena and older sister Venus were often subject to racist abuse and hecklers when they began training in tennis as young girls, leading father Richard Williams and mother Oracene Price to move them.
In the years since, both Williams sisters have unfortunately been subject to despicabe racist abuse from several detractors, despite which both sisters have chosen not to react, but use their position to work towards visibility and awareness of issues.
The Williams sisters are considered pathbreakers for both women and the African-American community in sport, with several athletes – male and female, citing one or both as their inspirations and role models for sport today.
Serena, perhaps one of the most decorated athletes of all time, is, with sister Venus, the most decorated Olympic tennis player of the past century; she also recently equalled the 22-Grand Slam record set by German ace Steffi Graf in the 1980s, and is only two titles away from equalling the all-time record of 24, set by Australia’s Margaret Court decades earlier.
Both sisters have also spoken out vocally on racial profiling, equal pay and serious issues plaguing sport in its current iteration.
Read Williams’ touching post in full: