The Haunting of Myriam Gurba

In this section of the book, Gurba uses ghosts to signify her past that haunts her. On the third line of page 157, Gurba talks about her obsession with wanting to think about Sophia. Gurba shows how single minded the obsession made her by giving each thought its own line as she sought a surrogate for Sophia, and puts the word obsessed in italics to show how much power the need had over her.

After choosing the Black Dahlia murder as a surrogate for Sophia due to the startling similarities it shared with Sophia’s case, Gurba decides to agitate the ghost of the Black Dahlia by stealing dirt from her grave. Subsequent to her stealing the sand, Gurba was now haunted by two ghosts, one she had asked for, and one that she cannot seem to get rid of. Gurba’s solution to her agitated haunting was to throw the dirt she had stolen from her grave into the ocean. Gurba’s final thoughts in this passage is “I wasn’t only trying to get rid of the Dahlia. I was trying to free myself from the other ghost, too” (161). These final thoughts clue the audience in on Gurba’s attempt to free herself from Sophia. Due to the similarities in both cases, Gurba believed that perhaps the Black Dahlia would take Sophia with her…She didn’t.

In a final effort to free herself from the ghost of sophia, Gurba sets out on a pilgrimage with her family to the place of the murder,Oakley Park. While on this pilgrimage with her mother, Gurba finally dresses Sophia who has been haunting her for decades. On page 174, Gurba addresses Sophia by realizing that she is happy to be alive. Gurba then lists individual moments that occur throughout her life that would be otherwise unnoticed and forgotten. Instead Gurba acknowledges them specifically and discusses how she is glad that she can keep listening to right-wing radio for fun.

This realization did not free her of Sophia, however it has allowed her to understand that Sophia lives on through her. The things that she is able to enjoy while she is alive, are ways that Sophia is able to live on and enjoy things through Gurba. To Gurba, the ghost of Sophia represents not only the events that occurred to her, but also the events that occurred to Gurba and her ability with the guilt of being a survivor. However, Gurba understands that she must live her life to its fullest and enjoy being alive in honor of Sophia, who was never given a chance.

Discussion Questions:

What do you think the ghost of Sophia represents?

Gurba has been haunted by these events for her entire life, what do you believe has changed that she is now able to live with the ghosts of her past and not try to free herself of them?

The Repression of Rape Through a Sexualized Lens

Throughout my blog post I want to address how Myriam deals with her rape through an uncensored sexual humor. Throughout the whole book, we get to know Myriam and her dark humor, but what stood out to me in these last chapters was how he she sexualizes certain instants to repress her traumatizing experience. Repression is a common mentality in all people, and the human subconscious works in ways that directs the thought through an outlet other than remembering; in this case it’s Myriam’s outlook the world in a sexualized fashion.

One-way Myriam represses her incident is by perceiving sex as an objective, which devalues the experience in a person’s life. She goes on to say “…so I gave myself a new challenge: to have sex with a married man” (p. 145), which makes the act of sex seem like a task rather than an intimate experience. By using the word “challenge,” Myriam is portraying to the audience that sex isn’t special, and just a goal for people to obtain. I feel that by devaluing sex, she is coping with her rape because the intimacy in sex was stripped away for her. She stops seeing sex as intimate, but as this tool of destruction. Another example of her devaluing sex was her experience with the drama professor. While vividly describing her sexual experience with the man, her mentality isn’t very serious. I believe that most people in this situation wouldn’t be making jokes; in this way Myriam displays that she is numb to being intimate. While in the alley with the man, he asks her “You just been diddled by a Jew. How does it feel,” to which she responds with “kosher,” (p. 149). Before I dissect this example, I want to say that this is my favorite line in the whole book. Not only is her response brilliant, but the situation is just weird. For this guy to say, “diddled by a Jew,” is just plain weird but oddly hysterical. It is kind of one of those lines where the person on the receiving end quietly laughs to themselves, and moves on, but Myriam answers with “kosher.” The reason she can respond in a witty way, while being against a wall in a sexual situation, is because of her lack of intimacy. Even if Myriam altered the situation while writing the book to make it funnier, her choosing to say or add a joke at that moment is her way of showing the reader how little sex means to her. Nevertheless, her use of satire in this situation exemplifies her lack of value in sex due to her traumatizing experience.

Even though Myriam is repressing the memory of her rape, she still gives insight to how it affects her mind. As the reader we travel through Myriam’s life, just to figure out how her trauma dictates her behavior. We analyze her dark humor, her way with people, and investigate her psyche. In these later chapters, she starts to directly connect her behavior to her experience more often than we’ve seen through the rest of the book; one instance really stood out to me. On page 153, Myriam’s use of anaphora really describes how derailed she has become due to the lose of her innocence. The repetition of “chaos” reflects how the memory of her rape is constantly bouncing around her head, as if she feels lost in her own mind. I really liked how Myriam breaks the anaphora with “the haunting.” This solidifies to the reader that her own memory is following her around like a ghost, giving a constant reminder of what happened to her. Nevertheless, Myriam is followed around by her trauma and continues to devalue sex because of her experience.


Question to answer:

Do you believe that Myriam uses the devaluing of sex to repress her trauma? What is another example of this in the text, and what significance does it have on the analysis of her behavior?

Find the Light

Mean is a story told from personal experiences by the author, Myriam Gurba. Since Gurba is seen as “different” from typical society, she is able to tell stories about what is was like growing up being queer and mixed race. I enjoyed some parts of this book because of her use of dark humor. For example, Gurba writes, “blond can be sexy. Blond can be innocent. Blonds get to have more fun. Blonds get to embody duality. Brunettes don’t get this privilege. Brunettes are doomed to ho and hoe” (Gurba, 38). I thought this was funny because of the classic saying, “blondes have more fun”. This saying correlates to how it’s more “beautiful” to be blond and how people with darker hair are to be soon as boring. Gurba pokes fun at this belief by saying brunettes are hoes. It’s funny how some believe hair color relates to one’s inner self.

Gurba also brings in humor when she talks about her experience in gym class. The girls wore “booty shorts” (Gurba, 41) and had to do “humiliating pose(s)” (Gurba, 41). She makes fun of the kids who went too try hard in P.E.     She says, “kids who took p.e seriously took off like kids who took p.e seriously. The rest of us jogged with the intensity of overcooked spaghetti.  Kids who took p.e seriously were assholes” (Gurba, 40). Gurba talking about p.e class attracts readers because of how relatable these situations are. Typically, there is always a split between kids who try hard in gym class and kids who don’t. Between the two groups, there is tension. One group making fun of the other for trying and one group making fun of the other for not trying. It made me laugh and understand what Gurba was saying through her use of humor. She trys to make her experiences relatable for all the different kind of people reading her story. Clearly, not one person has the same experience as another but through her use of humor, she tries to get all the readers to understand each other. She also brings up the first time she was mooned by boys in gym class. The ones who mooned the girls are typical, immauture boys. This allows readers to relate wether they were the immature boy or dealt with immature boys.

Gurba brings up a blond stereotype again in her expeiences. Her friend Ida said to her, “‘I know how you feel…I’m blond. I’m sick of the jokes” (Gurba, 64). Ida is claiming she understands how Gurba feels because of her hair color. Clearly, Gurba has a lot more differences than the people she’s surronded by. Ida tries to pity herself by claiming she knows the feelings of the hatred Gurba has to deal with. Gurba says, “maybe Ida was calling to tell me something dumb. Like that reverse racism was real” (Gurba, 64). I laughed while reading this because there is no such thing as reverse racism and Gurba thinks Ida is stupid enough to think it is real. I think Ida is a symbol of typical, white girls in society. They think that their hair being blond determines who they really are inside. Gurba uses humor to poke fun at these stereotypes of young girls. They’re immature and don’t quite understand the reality of life, yet.

Gurba’s story was interesting to read because of her use of humor. I was able to understand and engage in her story because of how she talked about her experiences. She tried to make light of some situations and make readers laugh. I think the ability to let yourself laugh is crucial in this world. You can’t let horrible experiences ruin your life. I think Gurba tries to add humor so she can sometimes forget about the true horror she has experienced.

Why do you think it’s important for Gurba to add humor into her story?

Did you find any other situtations where Gurba uses humor to lighten up situations?


Witty and original title for a blog post about Mean

Growing up in our modern society has its up and downs, as there are expectations one must meet to be “successful”. Throughout the first section of “Mean”, Myriam Gurba details her life story and discusses what it was like growing up in California, and the unique experiences she went through. She does not fit in with the “normal” crowd, as she is very different from them in various ways. During my reading of the first section of this novel, I noticed a pattern of Gruba dealing with circumstances most girls do not.

In one instance, Gurba was sitting in her school’s cafeteria and she noticed a boy was smiling at her. Like any social person, she attempts to talk to this boy for him to use a racial slur to describe the size of her lips (23). What’s peculiar about this exchange is that she was stereotyped as an African American, when in reality, she is Mexican. This shows that ignorance shows no boundaries, that all minorities are associated with one another and can’t break free of racial stereotypes and slurs. The most interesting part of this situation is that Gurba explains from where she got her puffy lips from – from her half polish father (23). Poland is a white country, and yet this boy made fun of Gurba for having those traits.  This situation shows the challenge of growing up in America as a minority, being put down because of the color of her skin. She is judged on the look of her lips because her skin is shades darker than the boy’s was. This exchange alone shows how different Gurba’s life is from most other people, she deals with blind, ignorant racism.

An event that had a big impact on Gurba was when she was molested by her peer, Macaulay. She was touched in broad daylight and did not give any form of consent to allow it (32). She discusses how he used many different ways to make her uncomfortable during class, he even used a pencil sometimes! Their teacher did not do a thing about it, as he just pretended that he didn’t see it and would continue on with the class. The touching still has an impact on Gurba, as she details that the event is always with her, so she’s never “alone” (33). She had to deal with this while growing, and even after maturation, she’s still dealing with the effect of the touching on her mental health. She also brings up how the deaths of Mendieta and Sophia have had an impact on her too, as they were “touched to death by men” (33). The survivor’s guilt she lives with takes a massive toll on her mental health, and stunts progress for her. Not many kids deal with survivor’s guilt while growing up, but here Gurba does and she has to live out the rest of her days with it. 


Myriam Gurba has lived a difficult life to this point, she starts out this novel by giving play by play analysis of watching her friend Sophia be raped and murdered on a baseball field. She has faced many difficulties most people don’t have to in their lifetime, and she went through this as a child. Gurba clearly does not fit the normal mold of a girl growing up, she does not fit into any stereotypical social clique (like in the movie Mean Girls). She, despite all this, did persevere and become successful, but still has to live with the survivor’s guilt and PTSD that came from her childhood.


What do you think of the awful events that shaped Gurba’s life?






World Of Dog Fighting

I based my found poem on an article I found on the ASPCA website relating to dog fighting in America. I chose this article because I am an animal lover and animal cruelty is what makes me most angry. I will never understand how people do not realize that animals are living breathing organisms. They are constantly mistreated all over the world, especially when it comes to dog fighting. Even though dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, it has been pushed underground and behind closed doors. It still occurs everywhere and it needs to be put to an end. I very much enjoyed writing this poem. I realized while making it that it was a great way to express my feelings about the topic in the way that I wanted to. Overall I really liked doing this assignment and look forward to hearing what my classmates thought about it as well. 

The Complications of History

Through her writing, M. NourbeSe Philip expresses the many layers of material that history carries on its back. While reading her poems, one could analyze multiple layers of context. The style that Philip writes in depicts the thoughts and feelings of the Africans on board the Zong. As she relies on the written law of the Zong case to write her story, Philip humanizes the African who had previously been dehumanized by being considered property, which is “not capable of being murdered” (Philip 191). The African people on board the Zong were stripped of their own names, only referred to as “negroe woman, man, or girl.” Their financial value for insurance purposes were recorded instead (Philip 194).

By relying on the Gregson vs. Gilbert case, Philip “tells the story that must be told” (Philip 189).  The story that is such a monstrosity but is not necessarily taught in schools or made known, besides through the poems that Philip strategically pieced together. The slave ship, Zong, set sail from the West Coast of Africa in 1781, heading towards Jamaica and steered by Captain Luke Collingwood. Due to navigational errors, the voyage took nearly an extra two months (Philip 189). This setback caused the ship to deplete in water and food supply. Once slaves began dying of dehydration or throwing themselves off the ship, the Captain gave orders to forcibly throw slaves overboard. 150 Africans were then thrown into the seas, in hopes to collect insurance money due to the “loss of cargo”.

When reading the first poem, confusion and panic immediately erupts. Trying to understand the meaning while rereading and arranging words is equivalent to the senselessness of the slave trade. Philip breaks down these sentences and words to convey the true feelings and thoughts of the Africans who were being sold off against their will. The spaces in the text represent the absence In the Africans voices, freedom, and bodies.  The fragmented text symbolizes the mutilation that slavery brought upon Africans lives (Philip 195). The random selection of phrases or words represents the random selection of Africans for enslavement (Philip 192). Philip compares the interest that slave owners have in their slaves working together with her interest in her randomly selected words working together (Philip 193). The style of poem requires the reader to make sense of them, leaving questions unanswered, and forcing meaning into the fragments.


What do you think that Philip is trying to convey through her style of writing these poems?

What feelings or emotions do you experience when reading?


A Chaotic Sea of Words

Before I delve into the chaotic sea of words that M. NourbeSe Philip calls Zong! I feel like it’s important to discuss briefly the history in which she is writing about. As a former lawyer, Philip is inspired by the legal decision of Gregson vs. Gilbert. Through a chain of poems, Philip writes of how 150 African slaves were murdered in order to collect insurance money; telling the story that cannot be told yet must be told: attempting to bring existence to these African slaves that were erased as people and were, instead, written off as disposable commodities.

Very notably, upon opening the book, we can see that the writing is very abstract. As mentioned in class, Zong! is a found poem, that is, a poem created by taking words, phrases and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning. Philip writes, “I murder the text, literally cut it into pieces, castrating verbs, suffocating adjectives, murdering nouns, throwing articles, prepositions, conjunctions overboard…” (193). She takes the legal document of the court case, destroys it, thus untelling the “story” and actually depicting the truth of what happened to these people. As it is told to Philip by Sataey Adamu Boateng, the way in which the words are placed on the page resembles memory, remembering the horrors of what happened on the slave ship. The torn apart and reconstructed words mimic the dehumanization and destruction of black lives lost, and it is hard to find meaning among them. Philip writes, “When I start spacing out the words, there is something happening in the eye tracking the words across the page, working to pull the page and larger “meaning” together — the eye trying to order what cannot be ordered” (192). By acknowledging that the words serve a purpose as they appear unorganized and scattered on the page, Philip gives way to and embodies the chaos that occurred aboard the ship. Also, there is a lot of white space left on the page where no words are written, which is symbolic of the silence that these slaves were forced to succumb to.

To borrow a phrase from Ian Strachan’s Diary of Souls, “I begin reading Zong! out loud. “w  w w w       a wa” (3). Very quickly, I am whispering, my voice and breath ragged. The letters far from each other sound like voices calling out from the water, like voices mourning. There is a sense in which words are not the thing here, that words must get out of the way for something else to come through. White space fills these pages, like water. I want to weep, or vomit. Something is pushing, rising up or out and I don’t know what it is. What I feel is an urgency in the coming apart of words to tell a story, or to let a story emerge, a story that is lost in the water.” Despite it being difficult to pull meaning from the words, readers of Zong! acknowledge that the words and the way in which they are spewed across the page haphazardly, do in fact, invoke a significant meaning. Philip writes, “The poems resist my attempts at meaning or coherence, and at times, I too approach the irrationality and confusion, if not madness, of a system that could enable, encourage even, a man to drown 150 people as a way to maximize profits” (195). Even the author acknowledges the fact that these unorderly, dissected words make it hard to excavate any meaning from the pages; yet she also believes that the story of Zong can only be told through untelling. She believes this because despite having the facts of the legal document, the log book with the slave names was lost, and therefore the entire story cannot be told.

Throughout the collection of poems, Philip repeatedly uses the same words to enhance their “meaning.” We see words such as water, overboard, drowned, negroes, dead, rains, sustenance, suffered, throwing and justify many times while reading. These words themselves, despite being seemingly thrown together, exude the story of Zong! and show the importance of telling this story, even if it’s difficult to understand. By emphasizing these words from the legal document, Philip is eliminating any ambiguity of what truly happened. The truth of the matter is these slaves were thrown overboard because there was an insufficient amount of water to sustain everyone aboard the ship and the crew wanted the “important” people to survive, as well as to cash in on the insurance of the slaves. Literary devices such as hyperbaton and juxtaposition are also used throughout, which lends to depicting the chaos of the Zong Massacre. Hyperbaton is the inversion of the normal order of words, especially for the sake of emphasis. For example, “the some of negroes” (6). Philip is emphasizing that only some of the African slaves were thrown overboard, which leads us to wonder why only some were and how it was decided who would be thrown overboard. Another example is, “exist did not” (6). Here, Philip is emphasizing the word exist to show that the existence of these slaves was not important to the crew members on the ship. Juxtaposition is the fact of two things being seen or placed together with contrasting effect. The best example of this I could find is when Philip writes, “sour water” (10). I think this is important because we don’t usually think of water as being sour. We think of it as cool and refreshing, and as a necessity of life. The Gregson vs. Gilbert legal document describes the overthrowing as, “ an action on a policy insurance, to recover the value of certain slaves thrown overboard for want of water” (210). By describing the water as “sour,” Philip is trying to showcase how the water of the ocean has been tainted by the greed and selfishness of those who threw the slaves overboard for profit, and now water is death instead of life.

Overarchingly, the poems of Zong! bring light to the horrors that these people faced. Philip brilliantly destroys the only public document related to the massacre, the Gregson vs. Gilbert legal document, and recreates it into the actual story of the Zong Massacre. A story that, unlike the legal document, illustrates the existence of these people, and the injustice they went through.

Discussion Questions

  1. As mentioned, there is a lot of white space left on the page where no words are written. How does this lend to the ways in which we read the poem? Should these spaces be accounted for? Why or why not?
  2. I talked about the repetition and importance of words. Why did M. NourbeSe Philip choose the words that she did and why are they put together in the way that they are?

“What feels more than a feeling?”: Irony and Feelings throughout Citizen by Claudia Rankine 

When we hear the word “citizen” we often assume that citizens come from the same place, therefore, the same rules apply to all citizens. Also, it is common to believe that all citizens of a given place should be treated equally. Rankine proves that citizens are frequently treated unfairly in comparison to each other based on race throughout the lyric with the use of examples. One example is when Rankine refers to Trayvon Martin. Rankine brings up Martin because he was killed for nothing but being a law-abiding citizen. Rankine says, “Trayvon Martin’s name sounds from the car radio a dozen times each half hour. You pull your love back into the seat because though no one seems to be chasing you, the justice system has other plans” (Rankine 151). This example is ironic because one of the reasons why the justice system was created was to protect the innocent. Trayvon Martin was innocent and the justice system had other plans for him because he was an African American citizen. Citizens are aware that our justice system has failed multiple times. 

The title of the book is very broad. You have to read through Rankine’s examples throughout the lyric to understand that she is talking about a specific group of citizens. Rankine focuses on African American citizens. Rankine says, “Even as your own weight insists you are here, fighting off the weight of nonexistence” (Rankine 139). This quote relates to the feelings of African American citizens. More specifically, African American citizens know that they are considered to be citizens but instances keep happening that set them aside from everyone else. Racism makes African American citizens feel like they stand out. One of Rankine’s goals is to prove to her readers that there are extreme disadvantages that African American citizens face simply due to their race. One piece of artwork that Rankine proves this through is Wangechi Mutu’s Sleeping Heads. The artwork shows a figure that appears to be a human head with a human hand around the neck. The hand around the neck symbolizes the person being choked. There also appears to be blood coming out of the person’s eye. These details in the artwork are used to show the pain that African American citizens faced when dealing with racism. The artwork that Rankine includes in her lyric creates a stronger message than the message of words alone would create. 

One reason why Rankine talks so much about feelings is to identify what her true feelings are about instances of racism. For example, Rankine says, “Can feelings be a hazard, a warning sign, a disturbance, distaste, the disgrace? It’s not that (is it not that?) you are oversensitive or misunderstanding” (Rankine 152) to understand that she can use a feeling such as anger as a way to create a strong message about racism. Rankine’s feeling of anger helped her throughout her lyric by creating a strong argument filled with passion. Although feelings are used to enhance Rankine’s message, she also says, “What feels more than a feeling” (Rankine 152). An action could feel more than a feeling. Throughout the lyric actions are mentioned and feelings are the results of the actions. One of the most important quotes in the lyric is when Rankine says “Yes, and this is how you are a citizen: Come on. Let it go. Move on.” (Rankine 152). This is an important idea because it relates to how African American citizens felt that they had to brush off racism and pretend that it didn’t hurt their feelings. Rankine wanted to eliminate this act of ignoring racism so she tried to make a difference through informing readers about instances of racism throughout her lyric.


  1. Were there any other examples of irony throughout the lyric that stood out to you? 
  2. Is there anything that you think feels more than feeling? Why is it more important? 

Laughter Is (Not) The Best Medicine

Throughout the lyric Citizen, the speaker brings up many examples of racism that she has faced throughout her life, and how she is trying to cope with these situations. In the final section of Citizen, a quote that stood out was, “Yes, and this is how you are a citizen: Come on. Let it go. Move on.” (Rankine 151). This quote stood out because it relates to the speaker’s message throughout. The fact that she is a woman of color defines who she is in society to many others. She often questions this throughout the book, yet she is still treated as less than her white peers. This is tiring, and she begins to stop caring about this treatment. When she hears a racist remark instead of instantly trying to question the reality of the statement, she says that, “what happens to you doesn’t belong to you, only half concerns you” (Rankine 141). This shows some of the speaker’s defeat. She recognizes here that who she is as a citizen cannot be changed easily. She still cares about this mistreatment, but begins to realize that this is just who she is as a citizen and loses motivation to seek change.

A coping mechanism that the speaker uses to deal with this reality is humor. The speaker is able to laugh with her friends over many situations where she is treated unfairly. For example, when she pays for dinner the waitress gives the debit card back to her white friend. Instead of reacting poorly,  “you laugh and ask what else her privilege gets her? Oh, my perfect life, she answers. Then you both are laughing so hard, everyone in the restaurant smiles” (Rankine 148). This shows how she laughs off white privilege and the microaggressions that she faces in society. It is ironic that the rest of the restaurant smiles at the girls, because they are likely guilty of similar behaviors as the waitress.

Laughter also has a negative impact on the speaker. When she does choose to act out against racist behaviors, she is seen as a joke. She feels upset because when she chooses to call out a microaggression, “everyone you ask is laughing that kind of close-the-gap laughter: all the ha-ha’s wanting uninterrupted views. Don’t be ridiculous. None of the other black friends feel the same way and how you feel is how you feel even if what you perceive isn’t tied to what is…” (Rankine 152). Those laughing at her will accept no views but their own, and laugh in her face when they have no idea how the statement may have impacted her. They compare her reaction to those f all of her friends, regardless of the fact that everyone has different experiences.

This is another theme throughout. African Americans are grouped together as being the same in every aspect, even how they look. The speaker struggles with this, as she feels as though she is overreacting to a situation simply because her friends were not upset. This is another example of a microaggression towards the speaker, as all individuals have different experiences that will draw different reactions to the comment. This laughter shows how people believe that blacks have a certain role as a citizen. For the group that was laughing at her, she was a target for their jokes, and was expected not to react to them in a negative way, but to simply laugh along. She feels conflicted as of how to react, since others were not bothered. When trying to ensure that this was not an overreaction on her part, she says that “It’s not that (is it not that?) you are oversensitive or misunderstanding” (Rankine 152). This shows how she is confident that her reaction is normal, but due to her widely accepted “role” as a citizen, even she begins to question herself.

  1. What other coping mechanisms have you noticed the speaker using to deal with racism in society?
  2. What are some other examples of white privilege in the lyric?

A Sharp White Background

As I read the first two chapters to Citizen I found one particular quote that stood out to me. On page 25, the narrator quotes Zora Neale Hurston in saying “I feel most colored when thrown against a sharp white background.”. This, to me, is one of the most powerful phrases I have seen. This is a statement clearly made about racism in America and states that she feels most colored when around white people, but also uses the word “sharp”. She is describing how it feels and the challenges you have to face being a black person in a world full of white people while also stating that it the color difference is only so noticeable when she is treated harshly for being black.  Throughout this chapter the most potent example she makes is the tennis player Serena Williams.

Today she is very well known being a very skilled tennis player, but she has had a rough and challenging career to say the least. In 2009 Serena Williams had an outburst on the court over a bias ruling that caused her to lose the match. The ruling was a foot fault meaning she had overstepped the bounds while serving. During this call Serena was already a game down and had 1 point left to lose the match. This call was made on a play where Serena had scored to tie up the round, but because with the call being made the rulings gave the point to her opponent and lose her the match. That being said it is a known custom in tennis to not make such trivial calls at such climatic points in a match that could decide everything. And even so others in the sport including McEnroe, a professional player, and the ESPN tennis commentator at the time all agreed that it wasn’t even a fault at all. In a fit of rage Serena swears at the lineswoman making the call. Although what she said was very offensive, There was much leading up to this scenario. That including the 2004 US open where she had been robbed of a match due to Mariana Alves’s aggressively bias calls forcing Serena to lose another important match.

All of this led up to her having a match in 2011 where a call is made, rightfully, and she gets into a small argument with the umpire asking if she was “screwing her again”. Aside from the fact the 2004 and the 2009 umpires were different she had many other instances of discrimination against her on the court. It is easy to assume this is probably an umpire from one or multiple of those instances. At this time Serena had become a very well known and well liked athlete, but it seems that all of that aside the community is very harsh towards her in particular. The quote “I feel most colored when thrown against a sharp white background” is personified by Serena so well because of her career as a tennis player. In her attempt to grow as an athlete Serena is constantly reminded by her white colleagues that she is black because of the poor and unjust treatment she constantly gets on the court.

Yet now she has slowly changed after achieving a few gold medals on the court she becomes less and less personal in the public eye. The narrator references “how to be a successful artist” by Hennessy Youngman on Youtube. This is a mock at society stating that in order to be successful you have to be white.  This is referenced here because we are getting into an era where time after time Serena is winning and slowly becoming less and less expressive about her racial pride. Even to the point of stopping her boycott of indian wells in 2015 after she is called out for lack of “dignity” and “integrity”over it. Serena had to separate herself from her career in order to be where she is today and to overcome the discrimination she is constantly faced, but instead of fighting it she eventually gives up on expecting better of her peers. She ultimately conforms to the white community in order to succeed.


Can you think of other athletes that experienced such extreme abuse throughout their career as well?

What do you think of the phrase “In order to be truly successful you have to be white.”?