Pardon me. I need to preface what you are about to read with a … not so much an explanation, but a statement of awareness of how it may be received. If you are a person, male or female, who ascribes to Hotep and ankh-right beliefs, you will probably be pissed before the end of this article. You have been warned.
Tennis superstar Serena Williams is engaged!
Thursday afternoon the 22-time grand-slam winner announced on Reddit her intentions to wed Alexis Ohanian, the 33-year-old co-founder and executive chairman of Reddit. In a thread for engagement stories, Williams shared details of her romantic proposal, noting that Ohanian had surprised her with a trip to Rome and taken her to the restaurant (and table) where they first met.
“Down on knee He said 4 words. And I said yes,” Williams wrote.
Ohanian later commented on the thread, “And you made me the happiest man on the planet.”
Williams’ announcement came as a shock to many of her fans, who had no clue that she was in a serious relationship. (There was speculation of a romance earlier this year by US Weekly, but neither Williams nor Ohanian responded to verify.) In an exceptionally rare move, the pair kept news and details of their romance off the ’gram.
Across social media, many of Williams’ fans, especially black women, celebrated the news and offered the couple well wishes.
And then came the haters.
Why, you ask, would anyone hate on an engagement announcement? Well … Ohanian is not black. He’s Armenian, like the elder Kardashian sisters. And some men, particularly some black men, were mad because Williams, a black woman who has alternately and equally been openly lusted over and openly dragged, didn’t choose a black man as her partner for life.
Yes, I know, it’s ridiculous. But that hasn’t stopped men, particularly some black men, from going absolute HAM across the internet over her engagement. It’s a new low.
I wonder if these kinds of guys recognize their own hypocrisy. And while I don’t know any of them personally, I often find that the kind of guy that writes something like this is the same kind of guy who makes and/or shares those god-awful memes bashing black women or participates in endless chatter about what black women don’t do and how every-woman-not-black does it better. It’s almost funny now—not “haha” funny; more like “funny to keep from crying”—that so many guys who have steadily pushed a “black women ain’t s—t” agenda are suddenly mad that Serena Williams is marrying a white man.
Let’s get to the bottom of this. The negative reaction of some men has nothing to with Williams. It’s not as if they ever stood a chance with her. This hoopla about her engagement is all about what Williams represents, and the idea that Williams’ engagement might mean there are options for black women who are constantly told that they don’t have any.
And even with that understanding, the vitriol of some black men still doesn’t make sense. Like, how is it possible that so many men who practice misogynoir day in and day out, whether by creating memes or posting them, or sitting silently by as others offend and abuse, become angry when a desired black women chooses a man of another race?
That’s not rhetorical. I really want to understand.
Williams is currently in New Zealand prepping for the ASB Classic, enjoying her fiance and not spending one iota of brain power thinking about this online debate. But to those who are riled up about her choice despite the lack of damns she gives, she seems to represent some sort of betrayal, which is just baffling. Were black women supposed to be constantly bashed by some black men, but remain forever “loyal” or prove themselves somehow worthy? Were black women supposed to yell “Pick me!” after men who spew hate at them or offer indifference to issues that concern them? Are black women expected to turn down love because the lovin’ wasn’t from a black man?
Please. Black women would do well to follow Williams’ lead. And no, I don’t mean go find a white man. I mean follow her example of chasing happiness and finding a partner who demonstrates support, love and a willingness to commit. If he’s black? Awesome. And if he’s not? Welp. That’s awesome, too.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She is also a blogger at SeeSomeWorld.com, where she covers pop culture and travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.