The Death of Super Woman

serena and naomi

2018 US Open final. USA Today Sports

by A. Joy Simone

Saturday I got back in a little later than planned and tuned into the U.S. Open Tennis Women’s Finals mid first set. Such an exciting match between two women of color, to include the fan favorite, Serena Williams, and a newcomer taking the world by storm, Naomi Osaka. To be clear, Osaka was serving it up and taking no prisoners. She was outplaying Serena, but also not taking any point for granted. When the first set ended, I was worried for Serena, but I was still hopeful she would pull it out. A mother and woman of a certain age, I was routing for Serena to reclaim the title, just one more time. Plus, I had seen her use her skill and force to turn things around just two days earlier in a match against Anastasija Sevastova. It seemed that Serena may have underestimated the skill of Osaka, or that she was simply too tired to turn things around. Nonetheless, for a set and a half, it was beautiful to watch Blackgirl Magic from both ends of the court, the veteran and the debutante, the mentor and her biggest fan. And then, things shifted.

I spent many Labor Day weekends as a pre-teen and young woman watching the U.S. Open finals. I’m dating myself, but I loved watching Zena Garrison and Yannick Noah, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe, Chris Everett and Martina Navratolova. I played tennis for my high school team, and might I add, had two seasons with an amazing serve that had I pursued with intensity and perseverance perhaps I would have been among the names mentioned above. Or not. I digress. But I love the sport. Something about it resounded with me from a young age, and that was only bolstered when I saw people on the court who looked like me.

Serena has been unapologetically Black. Unapologetically feminine. Unapologetically fierce. And, of course, unapologetically magical. Witnessing the way she was treated on Saturday hurt me to my heart. I cried and felt every ounce of her pain.
The passing of the torch is not an easy thing, but it is a right of passage, and a ritual, if you will, with rules. Osaka was prepared. Serena was not going to go out without the blaze of glory, without recognition that she held the baton. And then something went terribly wrong, all at the hands of an outsider who inserted himself emotionally into the right of passage that the world was witness to. He broke the rules. His ego or machismo or chauvinism would not allow him to treat Serena Williams with the respect she deserved. He went out of his way to shame the beautiful, magical, amazing Serena; and he marred a day of achievement that will not come again for 20-year-old Naomi Osaka.

serena and naomi 2

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

I say their names: Serena Williams. Naomi Osaka. I will not say his name. I will not give him anymore of my time. I cried real tears that afternoon. It brought to the surface every slight against me dished at various places of employment. I felt the sting of hard work exploited and then celebrated with someone else’s name on it; thieves disregarding my humanity, my brilliance, my contribution over and over again. I felt the patriarchal imposition, criticism, judgement of tears that fell in place of anger and rage, anxiety and fatigue. What the hell else do you want us to do? I digress. It wasn’t about me, but it was about women of many stripes and cultures, and yet also Black women in particular. In a last-ditch effort to seal the reprimand, not only did the umpire hand Serena the harshest penalty possible, but editorial pundits began hurling insults at Serena, calling her hysterical and angry, aggressive and threatening… beast-like. And in contrast, Naomi’s Haitian heritage,and even her Japanese heritage in some instances were wiped away, leaving her a sterilized individual, resembling a faceless blond with a ponytail.
Many have said that Serena knew what was required of her. Knew that it was expected that she would, as usual, suck it up and pretend that the disparity in treatment was not occurring, pretend that she did not have emotions, pretend that she was impenetrable, pretend that she was not angry, pretend that she was not a woman, pretend that she was unaware that people could see her Blackness.
So funny that in the midst of it all, she still swooped in to save the day for her young opponent and comrade, to salvage the victory for a young woman unable to speak up yet unable to deny the carnage that she had witnessed as layers of Serena were peeled back. It was raw. I could not discuss it with my male counterparts without hearing that rules were rules and that Serena had essentially thrown a tantrum, that one had to admit “she was a little arrogant.”

See cartoon:

Even more ironic was the Nike ad featuring a crowned Serena Williams representing herself as a queen of the court and of motherhood, which played in heavy rotation before, during and after the match/debacle. It was almost as if it was just too much to bear. So, yes, we were all robbed and shown that even a Super Woman is not enough to rise above racism and sexism, and color-ism, and prejudice. There will never be a fast enough dance… or jump, or serve. And so, Super Woman is dead to me. I don’t want the title. I don’t want the task. I hope that more women will join me in the mantra “I am enough.” When you are enough, you don’t require accolades or validation. When you know you are enough, you can put the cape away. Your new title says it all. Queen. I vowed three days after the match, three days filled with intermittent tears of anger and sorrow, that I would be unapologetically fierce, unapologetically Black, unapologetically female, and unapologetically magical. Just Be It. Enough.

Related links:

Serena Williams asked U.S. Open crowd to stop booing during Naomi Osaka's moment


It’s Over… It’s Finished

28058992_1961990024120540_3003836351374686197_nIt’s alright…it’s over…it’s finished…just a memory and it can’t stop you from your destiny!

I can’t help but notice certain things, certain similarities in people’s lives. I have been blessed to have many conversation with people who have experienced some very disheartening situations BUT they have used them as springboards to get to greater things. I recently went to an event and ran into an old coworker who told me she reads my posts. I smiled and said I hope they bless you. She said more than you know. I smiled again and said thank you. She then shyly lowered her head and asked me if I were ok? I smiled and said yes I am. Knowing why she posed the question I grabbed her hand and said it’s alright, it’s over , it’s in the past and just a memory. She then began to tell me a few things that she felt I needed to know.

She held my hand and asked me to sit down. She began to tell me a story that broke my heart while filling my spirit at the same time. She weaved a tale of a woman who went through storm after storm but never told anyone. She shared stories about trials to triumphs that made me cry and smile in the same moments. As I sat there holding her hand she was smiling and shed a few tears herself. I was honored that during this time in her life she chose me to share her story with me. In that moment, during that time I knew that I couldn’t stop writing. I knew that whatever it is…it is well with my soul. I sat with a woman who was my senior and my sister. She would never know until she reads this post how she became an intricate piece of my story.

You see what she didn’t know is that for the last month or so I have been running into random people who have been sharing with me how my posts encourage them. How my transparency has helped them along the way. When they tell me that they cry and laugh with me it touches me beyond words. What they don’t know is that I was very close to quitting. In fact I was very close to shutting down the page all together. Being SimplyTanny I am a woman of highs and lows who is constantly seeking balance. Last month I made a very profound declaration to myself. In doing so, I thought that if I was going to do “this” I would have to let go of all of the old. I felt like the story had been told and the rest is just life. I felt that a new chapter had to be written and it would require me to start in a new journal and not continue in the old one. I was one post away from saying goodbye to social media as a social outlet because it had become too messy. I had deleted, blocked, unfollowed so many people still to have my life shared through screen shots and personal agendas. I felt like it’s time to simplify which meant to shut it down. How do you do that if you continue to share pictures and post Tanny? Well for me it was an all or nothing and I had selected nothing.

Then God sent confirmation after confirmation that I was on the right track. He kept telling me this was not the time to quit but to press. He let me know that there was more to tell but Tanny had to be strong enough to endure some stuff in order to encourage others. So here I am being slightly transparent again while hoping my steadfastness will help someone else stay the course. While everyone’s tests are uniquely designed to teach you specifically something they are all beautiful orchestrations of how we jointly overcome. So today I am strongly encouraging someone out there not to give up! Be diligently empowered along your path to find the new you while letting the old you die. Learn from what life is teaching you but don’t lose your essence along the way.

Side but relevant note:
I have to share that there are certain types of people I really chose not to deal with BUT God has said in order for me to grow I have to allow certain things to go on around me but deny them access to me. So I am not gonna stop writing and I hope those of you who need to read these posts are searching for that outlet that builds you up and edifies others at the same time. Please use my words as motivation and not ammunition unless you are fighting negativity.

You see happiness can be found in the darkest of times but only remembrance can turn on the light.

Be encouraged,

#Ebonyowes Freelancers Gather at NABJ Conference

#ebonyowes #freelancingaintfree #nabj2017

Ebony Freelancer Zerline Hughes Spruill and National Writer’s Union President Larry Goldbetter meet with freelancers in New Orleans during the NABJ convention.

#Ebonyowes #paythewriter

At this year’s annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Ebony Magazine freelancers represented by the National Writer’s Union gathered to discuss the $200,000 lawsuit currently under way. The lawsuit is a result of unpaid invoices that Ebony Magazine’s new owner, CVG Group, purportedly owes to nearly 50 writers.

Michael Gibson, co-founder and chairman of CVG Group, disputes the amount that is owed, but pledged to pay off the freelancers, many whom have been waiting as long as a year to get compensated for work already published.

“We are committed to paying everyone 100 percent of what we owe and over the next few weeks,” Gibson said. “We will have all payments completed by (the) first week in July, which is consistent with our commitment.” He said an accounting error is to blame for the unpaid invoices.

Freelancers became more vocal last spring when they began tweeting #EbonyOwes/#paythewriter threads. Zerline Hughes Spruill, an Ebony freelancer and co-principal of Media Mingle consulting group, began campaigning on her own behalf in the spring. She has since been compensated, but continues to work on behalf of freelancers. She discussed the lawsuit on a recent episode of News One Now with Roland Martin.  

The union currently represents 38 writers who are owed more than $68,000. According to the NWU, 11 writers have received payments totaling $18,000.

Held at the 2017 NABJ conference in New Orleans, the informal forum included a discussion about ways to protect yourself as a freelance writer.

Johnson Publishing sold Ebony to Texas-based CVG Group, a private equity firm, in May of 2016.

How These Students Got into Every Ivy League Institution

There’s a small number of high school seniors who pulled off the spectacular feat of getting accepted into not one, but all eight Ivy League institutions. This CNN article delves into the secrets of success.

“These schools are really interested in people who help their community, and I think all of those factors, put together, influence why we fit well into the mold of each of these schools,” said Kwasi, who also works as a college admissions consultant for the SAT and ACT test preparation company Prep Expert.
Martin and Kwasi aren’t the only ones who have something in common. Their parents have some commonalities — three, to be exact.

Beyonce Announces ‘Formation’ Scholarship for College Women

Beyonce is committed to helping women “get in formation.” Her latest philanthropic endeavor establishes a scholarship that will cover the cost of education for 4 undergraduate/graduate students beginning in the upcoming academic year.

“To add to the celebration of the one-year anniversary of Lemonade, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter announces the establishment of the Formation Scholars awards for the 2017-2018 academic year, to encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident.

Four scholarships will be awarded, one per college, to female incoming, current or graduating students pursuing studies in creative arts, music, literature, or African American studies. The schools selected for participation are Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design, and Spelman College. All details and application deadlines are available directly from the colleges.”

Black Enterprise online

HBCU Digest

President Obama’s 1st Speech Since Leaving Office

Millions of us exhaled a little today when our former Potus, Barack Obama, took the stage at the University of Chicago’s Forum on Community Organizing. Former President Obama also spoke Sunday. “President Obama listened to the young men’s stories and shared some of the challenges that he faced growing up,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said of Sunday’s conversation. “He expressed that he was optimistic about their potential to positively contribute to their communities and support their families because of the services provided in the program.” View Pres. Obama at the forum here. (CNN)