Culture

Serena Williams Says She “Won’t Be Silent” On Police Brutality And Racism

"Why did I have to think about this in 2016?"

In a powerful Facebook post today, 22 time Grand Slam-winner Serena Williams has spoken candidly about the random nature of police violence against African American men and women.

The status was inspired by Williams’ profound feeling of stress passing by a police officer while in a car driven by her 18-year-old nephew. Even though she knew that her nephew was abiding by the speed limit and not breaking the law, Williams immediately thought of the brutal police killing of Philando Castile earlier this year, in which he was shot in front of his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter.

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“All of this went through my mind in a matter of seconds. I even regretted not driving myself,” she wrote. “I would never forgive myself if something happened to my nephew. He’s so innocent. So were all ‘the others’.”

Williams concluded, through quoting Martin Luther King, that to remain silent on the issue of police violence against people of colour was “a betrayal” and that equality cannot be achieved until society has been educated on the issue. “I am a total believer that not ‘everyone’ is bad. It is just the ones that are ignorant, afraid, uneducated, and insensitive that is affecting millions and millions of lives,” she wrote.

“Why did I have to think about this in 2016? Have we not gone through enough, opened so many doors, impacted billions of lives? But I realised we must stride on — for it’s not how far we have come but how much further still we have to go.”

This is the first time that Serena Williams has spoken publicly about issues of racially motivated violence, but she has been outspoken about the institutionalised racism in sport before, particularly last year when returning to the Indian Wells tournament where she and her sister Venus, were previously met with a barrage of racial slurs on the court.