You’re not supporting Serena Williams by painting your face black

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post uses Australian English spelling rules.


At the women’s singles semi-final of this year’s Australian Open tennis major, at least two fans were seen on television holding a sign reading “Keep calm and be Serena” and…wait for it…wearing black face paint. “Serena” is Serena Williams of the United States, who won her semi-final match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and went on to lose the grand final to Angelique Kerber of Germany. While I’m not a fan of tennis at all, I do know enough about the sport to tell you that Serena is probably the top athlete in all of sports globally.

If you’re wearing blackface, you might claim to be supporting Serena, but you’re actually being very racist.

Blackface was commonly used in theatre plays for many, many years, with usage in the United States being commonplace well into the 1960’s. In blackface performances, white actors would wear black face paint to portray black people. For fans to employ racism that the theatre industry used is absolutely unacceptable, and something that Serena herself finds to be very offensive. I’m surprised that there are many Australians who are very racist, to tell you the truth.

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