Controversial tweet sparks outrage by Alonzo Clark & Blair Barnes
North Carolina Agricultural &Technical State University tennis player and senior class president, John WilsonIV, posted a tweet on Twitter informing the Aggie community of a racial incident stemming from an opponent during a tennis match on Monday, January 29th against Appalachian State University.
Wilson stated that during a match, a tennis player from App State, Spencer Brown, reportedly said, “At least I know my dad.”
Immediately after the tweet was posted, students, faculty, and other supporters utilized social media by collaborating, debating and investigating all aspects of what happened.
With, at the time of writing this article, a total of 5126 retweets and counting, the post became a viral story where newspapers, radio shows, podcasts, and newsrooms used their outlets to inform the public about the racist remark mentioned. The head coach of App State tennis team, Bob Lake, defended his player in a statment saying “we have a black guy on our team,” said Lake.
Keiston France, former N.C. A&T tennis captain, experienced racism on the tennis courts throughout his life as a Black tennis player. He states, “I remember coming up through the years as a young tennis player in high school. White people staring at me strange, saying racial slurs under their breath, laughing at me, all because I was a black tennis player that was whooping their white players all over the court.”
Due to Brown’s racially charged comments,France didn’t see anything wrong with Wilson’s tweet. “I do not think John was wrong about creating the post on Twitter. However, the media has a way of twisting things up, and people who aren’t media literate will believe anything that is published by the media, whether it may be right or wrong. In this case, things could work against my former teammate because people will begin ghting against him without really knowing the true story. So again, I am siding with John on exposing this type of behavior. Nevertheless, you must be ready for whatever the consequence may be, and I know John is ready,” said France.
Dr. Kim Smith, Associate Professor of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, says “You have a lot of closet racists who’ve felt emboldened now with Trump being in o ce, and they’re coming out of the closet.” He also mentioned how it was a good idea for Appalachian State to suspend Brown inde nitely.
In response to Wilson’s tweet, Dr. Smith expressed how Wilson exercised his rst amendment right to bring Brown to the world’s attention. Incidents like this have happened since the sport of tennis became integrated. e rst professional black male tennis player, Arthur Ashe, Jr., during his college years playing tennis at the University of California Los Angeles, spoke out o en about how he faced hardships from people misperceiving black people. Especially when it came time to compete.
According to a UCLA Newsroom interview with Ashe, he said, “I am a Black, and American Black…primarily, I represent me. Secondarily, I represent us.” Ashe believed that race was not about race alone, but about Blacks having a social role.
As racism continues in not only tennis, but in all sports especially where people of color are involved, the greatest way to voice opinions and to protest has forever been changed through the power of social media. Want to see the original post? Search John Wilson IV tweet on Twitter @ jpheze.