Monday, July 11, 2016

A Night Of Heros

Three powerful images were making the rounds on social media Sunday night. The first, taken by Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman, is of an unidentified woman at the Baton Rouge protests over the killing in cold blood by police of Alton Stirling, a Black man, that was caught on cell phone video. The second is of DeRay McKesson, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, being arrested at the same protests. I think that was a still from McKesson's own live stream. He had been live streaming with his cell phone and handed it to someone else when he was arrested, I read on Twitter. I haven't seen the photo at any media outlet.

The third photo is of Serena Williams, the tennis superstar, who in winning Wimbledon for the sixth time this weekend tied Steffie Graf's record of 22 major tournament, or "grand slam" victories. On social media the picture of Williams was universally understood to be a photo of her giving the black power clenched fist after her Wimbeldon victory. That is the outfit she was wearing during the match.

Williams is a socially conscious person and posts comments on social media when there's news going around about yet another Black person being killed by the police. She's widely respected and greatly admired in the Black community for this, and for her athletic ability, and so is her friend, Beyonce Knowles, who was in the stands at Wimbeldon, for similar reasons; for her talent and her conscience. Although Knowles is more low keyed than Williams in how she expresses her social conscience and her solidarity with the generally working class Blacks who make up the bulk of the people affiliated with the Black Lives Matter and other activist groups.

I don't even see the photo of Williams posted anywhere except social media and see no attribution for it there. It's as if it's been censored by the mainstream media, in the way Martin Luther King's Socialism and his strident and vocal opposition to the Vietnam War and to US militarism and imperialism are never mentioned in mainstream tributes to him. He's been so sanitized that even Republican politicians can evoke him for their ends.

Those who control the media would rather Serena Williams be just a Black athlete who runs around on a tennis court for our entertainment. Not someone who thinks and has a conscience and knows exactly what goes on in this country and isn't afraid to bring it to the attention of her millions of social media followers who include, I read last night, Kate Middleton.

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