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Does Serena Williams deserve to be criticized for 'Crip Walking'?
Williams celebrates her first Olympic gold medal with a once-controversial gang dance, eliciting a backlash from certain (arguably racist) quarters of the media
Serena Williams cheers after winning the women's singles gold-medal match Aug. 4: A spur-of-the-moment celebration dance has the American tennis star mired in controversy.
Serena Williams cheers after winning the women's singles gold-medal match Aug. 4: A spur-of-the-moment celebration dance has the American tennis star mired in controversy.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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his week, Serena Williams became only the second woman to achieve a career Golden Slam, adding an Olympic gold medal to her victories in tennis' four Grand Slam tournaments. After throttling Maria Sharapova, 6-0, 6-1, Williams busted out into a brief jig on Wimbledon's Centre Court, to the delight of her sister Venus in the stands. (See the video below.) When it transpired that Williams had been dancing the "Crip Walk," made famous in the 1970s by the violent Crip gang in Compton, Calif., a backlash kicked in, with many sports writers saying the Crip Walk has no place on Wimbledon's hallowed grounds. But Williams, a native of Compton herself, said the dance had no political or cultural subtext. "I didn't know what else to do," she said. "I was so happy, the next thing I know I started dancing and moving." Does Williams deserve to be criticized?

Yes. Her dance was the height of disrespect: Williams "deserved to be criticized and she should've immediately apologized," says Jason Whitlock at Fox Sports. What she did "was akin to cracking a tasteless, X-rated joke inside a church." As a black woman, Williams "has never been given her proper respect at Wimbledon," and the Crip Walk was her "F-U revenge" to "give the snobs at Wimbledon a taste of the Compton girl they fear." The dance was "immature and classless," and she "deserved to be called out."
"Serena deserves the criticism"

No. The Crip Walk has long been de-politicized: The Crip Walk "is almost universally used (and abused) by lots of people who are unaffiliated with the Crips, including white people intent on embarrassing themselves on wedding and bar mitzvah dance floors," says Emma Carmichael at Deadspin. The Crip Walk has been "sublimated and normalized and mainstreamed and even commodified — another form of black expression denuded of its specific meaning and adapted and adopted by lots of Americans." This has nothing to do with taste. Williams' critics are really calling her out for doing "a Black Thing in a White Space," which only exposes their racism.
"How to Crip Walk: A guide to Serena Williams' very American gold medal celebration"

This would never happen to a white player: Williams' critics make it seem as if she "Crip-Walked away from the Queen after stealing the crown jewels," says Chris Chase at Yahoo Sports. But "it's a dance move, not a political statement." No one analyzed Andy Murray's gold medal celebration in the men's final, when the Scotsman climbed into the player's box. "Maybe it was a subtle commentary on the War of Scottish Independence and symbolized his nation's impending ascent."
"Serena Williams did the Crip Walk after winning gold"

 

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