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Still I rise

by Liu Yan

· compassion,courage

Recently I watched the documentary of Maya Angelo, the legendary African American poet, the author of the best-selling book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". I was inspired by her wisdom and courage. Her story makes me think of the recent incidence in US tennis open about how Serena Williams responded when she received the code of violation and penalty from the umpire during her match with Naomi Osaka.

I am not a tennis fan but this recent incidence in US tennis open really caught my attention. The supporters of Williams called for justice in terms of sexism and racism towards female and black players. I found it rather disturbing.

I have strong empathy towards Serena Williams by believing she holds a high level of integrity and would not win by "cheating", at the same time, I am questioning how the entire accusation and disrespectable behavior toward umpire could be accepted and tolerated as such, by man or woman, white or black. If Williams is looking for the fairness and equality by calling names and destroying racket JUST LIKE the selfish and ambitious male tennis superstars who have done it before, she is not trying to help US tennis open authority do a fairer job, she simply justifies her rude behaviour by putting her in the same level as the worse ones. This is far from her intention of being a role model for her child and the world.

The key point here is that Serena William and Maya Angelo's success has a lot to do with her upbringing being a woman and black. Both women have gone through entire life of discrimination and injustice, but they didn't try to run from it or cover it all up, they both found their courage and aspiration to build a strong faith and stand face-to-face with the suffering, be present to the calling and be available and exploited on all kinds of serendipity and opportunities in life, they are shaped and strengthened by these suffering and became successful, not overwhelmed or smashed by them.

I truly hope celebrity women such as Serena William would be someone who can let go of the evil-ization of the opponent voice which divides rather than bridging the marginalised and powerful, have more awareness of the ramification caused by the anger and resentment. Winning a match and becoming world champion, more access to fame and wealth does not buy your way out of patriarchy, compassion and humility do.

I end with my favorite poem by Maya Angelo:

Still I Rise You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
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