Race to the bot­tom

In sport the rules are ex­actly the same for ev­ery­body to play by, whether they are black or white, but vic­tim pol­i­tics is do­ing its best to blur that prin­ci­ple

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Opinion - TIM BLAIR

It’s not easy be­ing white. Jug­gling all of that power and priv­i­lege in our pasty lit­tle hands is no sim­ple task, let me tell you. Things be­come even more com­pli­cated for us white males, who ac­cord­ing to leftist au­thor­i­ties on such mat­ters are the most priv­i­leged and pow­er­ful of all hu­man be­ings any­where. Which ex­plains, I guess, why so many mil­lions of us coasted harm­lessly through World War I, the Great De­pres­sion and World War II, among other his­tor­i­cal events. With­out our trea­sured priv­i­lege, those lit­tle in­ci­dents may even have cost us a few pre­cious white male lives. Var­i­ous is­sues of white au­thor­ity were re­cently raised by a ten­nis court con­fronta­tion be­tween Ser­ena Williams and um­pire Car­los Ramos. To briefly re­cap, Williams called Ramos a liar and a thief af­ter he’d docked her a cou­ple of points for rules vi­o­la­tions. As such things go, this wasn’t ex­actly on a level with Rosa Parks be­ing or­dered to the back of a bus 63 years ago in seg­re­gated Alabama. Yet a num­ber of com­men­ta­tors seem to be­lieve it’s even worse. “The in­jus­tices Ser­ena rou­tinely faces are deeply con­nected to her si­mul­ta­ne­ous ex­is­tence as both black and a woman,” wrote Elizabeth Adetiba, a Univer­sity of Chicago re­searcher study­ing “the im­ple­men­ta­tion of tran­si­tional jus­tice in postrev­o­lu­tion­ary states”, what­ever the hell that means. Williams has col­lected more than $100 mil­lion for pat­ting a ball around a ten­nis court, and added a fur­ther mil­lion or so for her two lousy sets against US Open win­ner Naomi Osaka. The of­fi­cial she abused picked up $600. Just as well he had all of that white male priv­i­lege to fall back on, oth­er­wise this might seem a lit­tle im­bal­anced, jus­tice-wise. “Any at­tempt to un­wind the two — to priv­i­lege one fac­tor of her iden­tity over another for the sake of mak­ing her ex­pe­ri­ences uni­ver­sal — ends up com­mu­ni­cat­ing the same mes­sage pro­fes­sional ten­nis has sent to her for years: we’ll ac­cept you, but only with con­di­tions,” Adetiba con­tin­ued.

To be clear, those con­di­tions are as fol­lows: play by the same rules as ev­ery­body else.

“The show­down with Ramos, as usual, trig­gered the con­tempt of ten­nis purists who still can’t stand to see the game dom­i­nated by a black woman from Comp­ton,” Adetiba claimed.

Now, I’m no ten­nis purist, but I’ve been a huge Ser­ena fan ever since she turned up at a Wim­ble­don press con­fer­ence in 2009 wear­ing a T-shirt with the slo­gan: “Are you look­ing at my ti­tles?” The lady has a raunchy sense of hu­mour, when she isn’t abus­ing court of­fi­cials and pre­tend­ing she’s a vic­tim.

Speak­ing of which, racial con­cerns have now be­come so fraught in the US that the Univer­sity of Mary­land lately an­nounced a coun­selling pro­gram of­fer­ing a “safe space for white stu­dents”.

“This group of­fers a safe space for white stu­dents to ex­plore their ex­pe­ri­ences, ques­tions, re­ac­tions, and feel­ings,” a de­scrip­tion of the pro­gram ex­plained. “Mem­bers will sup­port and share feed­back with each other as they learn more about them­selves and how they fit into a di­verse world.”

Er, OK. The pro­gram sub­se­quently changed its name (orig­i­nally White Awake) and al­tered its aims fol­low­ing in­tense crit­i­cism. “The world is a space for white peo­ple to talk in,” one stu­dent told the univer­sity’s cam­pus news­pa­per, which is true un­less you’re a tar­get of the Aus­tralian Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion’s lan­guage en­forcers.

Racial ob­ses­sion, now ex­tended even to ten­nis dis­putes, threat­ens to un­der­mine decades of progress. It is in­trigu­ing to won­der how the ac­tions of white man Bill Kurtz­man might be in­ter­preted were a sim­i­lar cir­cum­stance to oc­cur in 2018.

In the late 1950s, you see, Kurtz­man no­ticed a young Abo­rig­i­nal girl peer­ing through the fence at Barel­lan’s War Me­mo­rial Ten­nis Court and in­vited her in­side to play.

Was this an act of white pa­ter­nal­ism? Or of di­min­ish­ing Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture by in­tro­duc­ing the lit­tle girl to a white sport? Beats me, but things all seemed to work out. A few years later, in 1971, Evonne Goolagong won her first Wim­ble­don crown and used the prize money to buy her mother the fam­ily’s first wash­ing ma­chine.

“Some of my best friends are white,” Goolagong wrote in her com­pletely charm­ing 1975 au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Evonne! On the Move.

“With­out them there would have been no ten­nis, no tour­na­ments, no dis­cov­er­ing and re­fin­ing this tal­ent that I have for pur­su­ing and pum­mel­ing a ball. It is not a tal­ent that nec­es­sar­ily en­riches mankind, but en­ter­tain­ment does have a value. It en­hances life … There would have been no be­gin­ning if Bill Kurtz­man hadn’t taken a lik­ing to me.”

Goolagong went on to win 11 grand slam sin­gles ti­tles, in­clud­ing Wim­ble­don in 1980 af­ter be­com­ing a mother her­self. For all her mil­lions, that is an achieve­ment Ser­ena Williams is yet to match.

Must be the white man keep­ing her down.

Racial ob­ses­sion, now ex­tended even to ten­nis dis­putes, threat­ens to un­der­mine decades of progress

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