I was born an old, white guy. Well, that’s not entirely true. I was young once, but those days are gone. The point is, I can’t help being an old, white guy. Frankly, I have no choice. I suppose I could do myself in, but then I would simply be an old, dead, white guy. I’m opting for the former as long as I can.
Being an OWG gives me a perspective on things that many other people don’t have. It’s not the white part that gives me my view on life as much as the old part. I have gathered a good deal of sagacity and perception in my seven decades of journeying on this orb. That’s not a boast, it’s just what happens when you hang in there long enough.
Any insight that I’ve accrued over lo these many years has perched me at a position to be a tad more objective about life. At least I think it has. As I view the landscape, this becomes more and more apparent to me.
A Bit of a Meltdown
Recently, one of the great tennis players of all time, Serena Williams, had a bit of a meltdown on the court. If you missed the reporting on that, you must have been in hibernation. This happens to athletes from time to time—especially to intense competitors such as Williams happens to be. Usually, we take note of an event like that and move on. This one, however, got blown way out of proportion.
There was wall-to-wall coverage and analysis of her flare-up. It was turned into a racist/sexist thing (partially by her own statements), and even the political commentators couldn’t help but jump into the fray. It was a mess. My feeling was simple. Just let it go. No one listened to me, however, and the rest of the world jumped in.
A talented cartoonist from Australia produced a drawing depicting Serena jumping up and down on her tennis racquet. There have been many caricatures done of her over the years, but the timing of this one caused quite a stir. The Aussie artist was accused of reviving an old stereotype of “the angry, black woman.”
A Simple Response
In response, he simply stated that he had watched the US Open final and saw “the world’s best tennis player have a tantrum.” He further stated, “The cartoon about Serena is about her poor behaviour on the day, not about race. The world has just gone crazy.” In short, Serena cannot help that she is a young, black woman any more than I can help being an old, white guy. Both of us, however, have a say in how we act. Pointing out that her actions were a bit over the top that day is neither racist or sexist. It’s just human.
I still love Serena. She’s entitled to blow her stack on occasion. Even us mellow old, white guys do that. Maybe we should make less of a deal about our human foibles and just love each other.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]