Now, I’m not a huge fan of tennis, nor do I regularly follow it – because frankly I don’t understand the rules. But my admiration for Queen Serena Williams urged me to keep up this year. And I’m sure we all tuned in just in time to watch her being handed penalties for code violations alongside cheating allegations. Which eventually cost her the grand slam title.
Most reporting platforms will have you believe that this legend’s outburst or episode was a reaction to her loss. When in reality it was the the true image of a woman battling with the frustrations of blatant patriarchal privilege. She was fined for behaviour that males would display in any match. But this post is not about gender bias, half of you reading this are probably already towing that line.
But watching how Serena carried herself amidst all that chaos I learnt one of my biggest life lessons to date; YOU OWE ME AN APOLOGY. A mood. A concept.
She faced her problem [Carlos Ramos] confidently and unshaken. Uttering the words with her whole chest. Something I’ve never done. Yes, I’ve expressed many frustrations to friends and close ones, exposing the hurt that people have put me through. I’ve even gone a step further to confront those that have offended me. But to ask someone to take ownership of their actions by way of an apology… That’s a new one.
I am confident enough to let others know what I need from them, and how I want it delivered. But to me, an apology has always seemed somewhat selfish and entitled. I have no issue opening up dialogue to mend whatever grievance has been caused. But at times it does feel like I grow olive branches on a factory scale. Because Its not very often that I witness this on the flip side…
I’ve always buckled under the lesson that as a female; tolerance for other people’s bullshit is the grand duty I owe society. We must learn to bend our backs in order to make the others [usually men] feel good. As a young African woman, cultural socialisation would have me praised for catering to the needs of others before even considering my own. The archetype of the strong black woman is an image so normalised, that we don’t question it. We see it in the face of our mothers, aunts and grandmothers – warriors with scars unhealed by the lack of a simple apology. But for the sake of family, duty and culture they choose to keep on keeping on.
It’s not that I’m not grateful to those that came before me, I just chose to honour them in a different way. I believe that Serena’s declaration carried the voice of all women. Instead of suffering behind closed doors; like her I will stand firmly with poise and command that which I am owed.