No, the engagement of Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian does not spell doom for Black love.
When news broke
that legendary tennis player Serena Williams got engaged to her long-time beau and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, my first, main and ongoing reaction was "Okay. Another celebrity couple decides to marry. And? Why should we care?"
And that's it. Honestly, I didn't think much about it beyond that.
Which is to say, I viewed this as, ultimately, a case of dating within socioeconomic status. Which is to say, I didn't exert any brain power forming an opinion of the "news" in other terms. At all. I emphasized this point to a friend who called to inquire about whether or not I felt any way about the announcement.
Scrolling the comment section of some of the articles carrying the story, I learned very quickly that a lot of folks — and by folks, I mean Black men — did, indeed, feel a certain way about Williams' decision. Taking into account that none of these dudes would ever find themselves in the same social orbit as Serena Williams let alone have a shot with her, I was really flabbergasted as to why.
While it's true that some of these Hotep-identifying Black men were just being petty, what I also realized — or, rather, reminded myself — is that the reaction wasn't so much about Serena Williams as it was about what her engagement suggests about the state of Black love; Williams, like other pop-culture icons, was merely a conduit to wrestle with, and recapitulate, larger questions concerning the difficulties of finding and sustaining companionship and intimacy within the Black community.
I tend to assume that most Black people are familiar with the problems confronting Black love — socioeconomic, psychological and historico-cultural factors play a major role. In fact, the odds have always been stacked against the formation of healthy Black relationships and families since the inception of America. With the passing of time, this has only grown worse and more sophisticated.