On Jane Campion’s Comment on Venus and Serena

Last night when accepting her Critic’s Choice Award for Best Director, Jane Campion had this to say about Venus and Serena Williams: “Venus and Serena you’re marvels but you don’t have to compete against the men like I do.”

Firstly, Jane Campion is literally incorrect: both Venus and Serena have played mixed doubles in which they compete against and with men. Secondly, although Serena has more grand slam titles than any other active player, she has won less prize money than Rafael Nadal (21 grand slams) and Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (20 grand slams each), so arguably, she is “competing” with men in terms of salary and losing.

This white woman won an award and instead of just thanking her team, she took the opportunity to disparage two Black women. Why? Because she was threatened by their brilliance. When she looks at them, her mediocrity stares back at her.

The racism and white supremacy in her comment is evident and she is not the first white woman to speak disparagingly about Venus and/or Serena. It is strange to me how so many white women seem to want to be even more oppressed than they are, that sexism and misogyny alone don’t seem to be enough for them.

To any white woman reading this, trust me, the combination of racism and sexism/misogyny is not sweet like cookies and cream or peanut butter and chocolate. It is not for the faint of heart and these dueling oppressions have slayed many warriors, believe me.

Many white women, inside and outside of sport, have criticized Venus and Serena, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles and countless other Black women athletes. If I had a dollar for every minute I’ve spent defending these women from racist comments online, I’d be as rich as Oprah Winfrey.

And even though the racism is always easy to see in the criticisms of these women and the people I’m arguing with never have any facts to counter the ones I present, I’m tired of having to defend these women in this way. I’m tired of their excellence not being enough. I’m tired of the violent antics of Alexander Zverev being written off as just a reaction to what’s going on in his personal life. I’m tired of the sympathy shown to Novak Djokovic when he literally lied to the Australian government or when he cracked under the pressure of trying to complete the calendar slam. Serena Williams would not have seen a fraction of the public support these two white men got had she done the same things.

But though I am tired, I am not weary. So to the Jane Campions of the world, be forewarned: my pen is mightier than the white supremacy and racism you so desperately cling to. My pen is hungry for justice and she will not be denied.

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