In the midst of historic protests against racism and police brutality following the murder of George Floyd, Venus Williams is getting candid about the state of the country.
On Monday, the 39-year-old tennis champion shared a personal statement on Instagram. She wrote, “I am deeply saddened that it has taken multiple acts of police brutality to make people painfully aware of the racism that still pervades America. It shouldn’t. This just scratches the surface of the hideous face of racism in America. Take a moment to imagine this: If police brutality can exist and be tolerated so many years at this scale, imagine the other insidious acts of racism that permeate our country. In the workplace. In the justice system. In the healthcare system. In the education system.”
Williams also discussed how racism has long been a taboo subject. “Speaking up about racism in the past was unpopular,” she continued. “It was shunned. No one believed you. Until you have walked in these shoes, as an African American, it is impossible to understand the challenges you face in the country, in this world. What it is like to be unheard, thought of foolish, silly or reckless to believe that racism still exists at every level.”
However, the current support and solidarity that has been taking place over the past few weeks has “brought [her] to tears.”
“This is no longer falling on deaf ears. I’m amazed at the solidarity that has erupted across the USA,” Williams wrote. “In the past, I had the honor of fighting for equal prize money for all women’s players at the grand slams in tennis. To make this even more simple to understand, just as sexism is not only a ‘women's issue,’ racism is not only a ‘black issue.’ When we fought for and won equal prize money, everyone pitched in, men and women, all colors all races. And we won.”
“When the majority groups stay quiet, when they sit in the chair of disbelief, they unwittingly condone the oppression of marginalized groups. Those with power and privilege actually have an easier time getting heard. They must CONTINUALLY exercise that privilege! We MUST win! We cannot let systematic racism persist. We have to love one another. Help one another. Listen to one another, believe one another, even if we don’t understand or will never walk in our neighbor’s shoes.”
Williams concluded by encouraging her followers to continue fighting for justice. “Keep speaking out. Speak out today, tomorrow, next month, next year, each and every day until all is equal for African Americans. I am so happy, so relieved, as an African American, to finally be heard. I pray for those who have lost their lives and for their families so America could finally wake up and act.”
A powerful message from an equally powerful woman.