King Richard (My Take) & The Silent War Against Good Black Fathers!
Updated: Dec 1, 2021
Let me start out by saying that this is not a review. In fact, it started out as a review and then I started hearing a lot of negative thoughts on the film which led to this blog post.
First my take on the movie. This awesome movie starring Will Smith (as Richard Williams), Aunjanue Ellis (as Orancene "Brandy" Price), Saniyya Sidney (as Venus Williams) and Demi Singleton (as Serena Williams) is an historical account about a father's sacrifice for his daughters' future. It tells the story of how he and his wife sacrificed for their daughters' tennis career. The movie shined a spotlight on Mr. Williams as he defied gangs, racist coaches and the system to put Venus and Serena on the right path. In addition to tennis, he made sure all of girls had a balanced life of school, church, and being children.
There were times you agreed with his methods as when he negotiated impossible deals with the girls' trainers. There were times when you didn't agree with him as when he risked his life protecting his girls from gang members (whom he later earned their respect). There were also times he was completely irrational in which he extremely too hard on his girls or arguing with Brandy.
This is a movie about man despite his own circumstances wanting what's best for his children. There was even a scene where a neighbor called child services on the family because they believed the girls were being abused. Richard Williams soon explained to them the struggles of raising children on the streets of Compton in the nineties. He explained to them, he'd rather be tough on them now rather than get a knock on the door later saying they were either arrested or murdered.
In short, this is not just the story of a man who raised two tennis superstars nor is it just about his journey. It's about a hero who is flawed. It's about a man who is flawed. This is a man who prepared his children for a world that didn't give a damn about him or them. You should know what happens by the end. Venus and Serena go on to be the greatest tennis superstars of all time. I highly suggest this movie to anyone.
How many of you know that Will paid an estimated 40 million dollars to the crew out of his own pocket to cover any losses because he also wanted the movie to air on HBO Max. Mr. Smith felt this was too important of a movie for it not be seen because a lot his audience aren't still going to movie theaters. He believed in this project enough to put the risk upon himself.
However, I didn't come here to talk about that. Now on to the real pachyderm in the room.
While many praised this movie and Mr. Richard's role in Venus & Serena's tennis success, there are other who feel this movie takes away from their story. Many who said this in the beginning did this without knowledge that Venus & Serena were executive producers on the film with Will Smith. Many found it hard to believe that the Williams' sisters wouldn't be a part of their own story. This is where the fine line of "feminism" turns into discounting a father's role in being a part of their child's life.
Now before you boycott me, I put feminism in quotes because I'm not talking about real feminists. Real feminists fight for women's rights without man bashing. The hatred for Richard's role in the ladies' upbringing in life and the tennis world is man bashing at its finest.
Jessica Taylor, Author of the book, Why Women Are Blamed For Everything wrote this on Twitter about the movie, "I get this has annoyed people but I genuinely didn’t expect a film about two of the most powerful, successful and amazing black female athletes to be named after a man, or centre a man. I would have loved this film to be all about them, and not a man. That’s it really."
Despite all of the counter responses she received on Twitter, let me personally address this. This is a man who believed in his daughters enough to sacrifice for his daughter's success. Nothing takes away from those ladies. In fact, a man who fights for his child's athletic success isn't new but a man who fights for his child's athletic success but still sees about their educational success and still allows them to be children is very rare.
Now I can continue on about Dr. Jessica and many others with their hate or I can give you my take on hate.
Should Richard Williams be honored for his sacrifices? Yes.
Was he perfect? No
Was he alone in his efforts? No, he had a strong black woman by his side and while he didn't always see or appreciate it, he listened when it counted and he never pushed her away. Mom was strong on her own. She taught the ladies tricks "King" Richard slacked on because Brandy was a former athlete herself. Another feature the movie spotlighted.
I don't know why we find it hard to praise "real" black fathers because we either pain them absent, deadbeats or clueless when they are there. Yes, we are not perfect but we are there. We make something happen for our children. Are there things I could have done better as a father, yes but I worked hard for my children. Let me say, I'm not talking to the ladies who do have deadbeat or absent fathers because they do exist. It's just not in the high numbers society wants us to believe.
Many hate this movie because the public as a whole won't let them paint Richard Williams as a villain because what's a movie without a villain, right? Unfortunately this movie has no villain because it's all about a hero dad raising girls to be heroes in their own community to little girls coming up behind them. While this movie should have moved us by telling one of our stories, we yet again picked it apart and used it on our own negative campaign. However, a piece of this will continue on in this week's weekly gripe for December 4th. I'll keep that a secret to myself.
My final word is stop looking for problems where there aren't any. You are entitled to your own opinion about this man but the facts are that if it wasn't for Richard Williams, Venus and Serena would not be where they are.