Generations of African-Americans have known this to be true all their lives, but the disproportionate and often fatal targeting of Black people by the police has only become an issue that the broader American public has acknowledged in recent years. Aided by traditional and social media, anyone today would be hard pressed to deny the disturbing frequency at which Black people — often unarmed and/or nonviolent — have died at the hands of law enforcement.
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to develop, celebrities, too, have found their voices to speak out against racial policing, often risking their careers and reputation to do so (see: Colin Kaepernick). On Tuesday, one of America's greatest athletes, Serena Williams, weighed in on racial policing via a poignant and powerful post on Facebook.
Williams wrote that she was doing work on her phone as her 18-year-old nephew drove her to meetings that day. She spotted a police officer in the distance, and quickly checked to see if they were going the speed limit. "Then I remembered that horrible video of the woman in the car when a cop shot her boyfriend. All of this went through my mind in a matter of seconds. I even regretted not driving myself. I would never forgive myself if something happened to my nephew. He's so innocent," she wrote. "So were all 'the others.'"
The tennis star added that she believed not everyone is bad, "just the ones that are ignorant, afraid, uneducated, and insensitive that is affecting millions and millions of lives."
While acknowledging society's progress in terms of racial equality, Williams was still left wondering:
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 realized we must stride on — for it's not how far we have come but how much further still we have to go.
But she turned it into a moment of self-reflection that led her to write her post. "Have I spoken up? I had to take a look at me. What about my nephews? What if I have a son and what about my daughters?" she asked. "As Dr. Martin Luther King said, 'There comes a time when silence is betrayal.' "
Read her post in full:
Cover image via Neale Cousland / Shutterstock.com