Andy Murray Wins Wimbledon

Andy Murray: Totally NOT the First Brit to Win Wimbledon in 77 Years

I owe Andy Murray an apology.

Once, a while back (perhaps a couple of years ago) I called him “whiny”.  I did this publicly on Twitter.  I apologize, Andy.  You are not whiny.  You are AWESOME!  CONGRATULATIONS!!

Andy Murray has gotten a lot more kick-butt lately.  He’s matured as a human being and as a tennis player, and that is why Virginia Wade and #Wimbledon2013 are this week’s Twitter hashtag of the week!

“Huh?! Who is Virginia Wade and what does she have to do with Andy Murray” you ask?  Lemme ‘splain.

According to Passnotes (“a humorous Q&A about a news issue of the day”) on the Guardian’s website, the Times, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail (major periodicals in the UK) all published headlines about Murray being the first Brit to win at Wimbledon in 77 years, since Fred Perry won it back in 1936.

WRONG!

Virginia Wade Wimbledon
Virginia Wade holding the Wimbledon trophy on July 1st, 1977

Virginia Wade was the last Brit to win at Wimbledon!  That’s right!  She did it back in 1977!

Perhaps we could give these publications the benefit of the doubt and say that they confused “1977” with “77”, but then their lines about “77-year wait” and “after 77 years” wouldn’t make sense anymore.

Well this is awkward.

Wade is now almost 68 years old (her birthday is coming up on July 10th!), but back in 1977 she was a tennis champion who had previously won the US and Australian Opens.

Not only that, but before her, Britain’s Dorothy Round Little won the women’s title at Wimbledon (1937), so did Angela Mortimer (1961) and Ann Haydon-Jones (1969).

But let us be clear: Because the men’s singles bring in more viewers, sponsors and cash, and because men’s tennis is so much more, well, legit (they actually play 5 whole sets, as opposed to the ladies), the fact that Andy Murray is the first British man to win at Wimbledon in 77 years is more important than Wade’s victory in 1977.

Andy Murray Wins Wimbledon
This is cool. But he’s not the first Brit in 77 years to do it.

Right?

Sadly, so it would seem.

Now, I want to be clear: I do not, in any way, want to diminish Murray’s victory.  He beat Djokovic in an INCREDIBLE final match, and he deserves to revel in his achievement.

But it does not follow that Wade’s victory 36 years ago should be passed over or forgotten merely for the sake of a dramatic headline.  It’s still pretty awesome that Murray is the first Brit to win at Wimbledon in 36 years!  Don’t you think that 36 years is a long enough dry spell?

Okay, okay, call me a feminazi if you want to.  Call me a parade-rainer, a party pooper, or whatever.  Honestly, I didn’t know about Virginia Wade myself until today.  I had heard, like everyone else, that Britain had not had a Wimbledon champion in many long years.

That’s why I’m writing this article, and it’s why I hope you will share.  Because it’s important to remember Virginia Wade, and to celebrate the ladies like the Williams sisters, Sharapova, Bartoli and all the other amazing lady tennis players out there.

Cheers, ladies!

Read More

Charles Ramsey is the Hero of the Day

Yesterday, three women, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were rescued by pure chance after 10 years of imprisonment. Charles Ramsey was the neighbor who heard Amanda Berry’s screams and helped her break out of the house where she and the other women were imprisoned.  Charles Ramsey is the hero of the day, and this week’s Twitter #Hashtag of the Week.

As you can see in his interview, Mr. Ramsey’s actions were the result of what, to him, were perfectly natural reactions to a call for help.  Twitter is abuzz with talk about Mr. Ramsey for two reasons: First, though he assumed he was overhearing a case of domestic abuse, he refused to ignore a call for help.  Second, his concluding comments in the interview above have sparked some conversations about race in the United States.

Amanda Berry and Gina Dejesus
Amanda Berry (left) and Gina DeJesus, two of the kidnapping victims.

Domestic abuse is a tough issue for a stranger, sometimes even friends, to address.  Social delicacy often dictates that we turn a blind eye, or that we only breach the topic when friends bring it up.  We see what happens between two people in a relationship as none of anyone else’s business, which sometimes means that we pretend not to see, or refuse to see, violence or other kinds of abuse happening in front of us.  Governments and police departments around the world are encouraging people to break the silence and report cases of domestic abuse.

Mr. Ramsey, it would seem, did not even stop to think about whether or not he should assist what he assumed was a victim of domestic violence.  Instead of pretending not to hear the screaming behind the wall, Mr. Ramsey went to Amanda Berry’s aid, and helped her break open a door that her captor (or captors, as there are three suspects in custody) had rigged to stay shut.

McDonald's Tweet to Charles Ramsey
McDonald’s tweets about the rescue, becomes the official restaurant of every day heroes everywhere (right?).

His immediate and unhesitating reaction is exemplary.  Mr. Ramsey’s actions were heroic precisely because he had no thought of their being so.  From his perspective, he simply responded to a call for help.

The other cause of Mr. Ramsey’s celebrity, and one that makes us feel less warm and fuzzy inside than his bravery, are the comments he made at the end of his now-famous TV interview.

In response to a question from the reporter about the girls’ reactions when they got out of the house, Mr. Ramsey said, “Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms.  Something is wrong here.  Dead giveaway.”

That drew awkward laughter from the crowd surrounding him and prompted the reporter to end the interview in a hurry.

Tweet from Sarah Kendzior
A reaction to the reaction to Charles Ramsey on Twitter.

I have no doubt that Mr. Ramsey’s comments came from the heart.  As to whether he was meaning to lighten the mood and insert a joke, or trying to bring up the topic of racism in the United States, only he can say.

But the result of his comments is twofold: the conversation is moving away from the disturbing reality that three women were held prisoners for ten years (and apparently one was made a mother, though that is yet unconfirmed); and Charles Ramsey is now being made into an internet meme, which sadly dehumanizes him and puts him into the entertainment category.  As Gene Demby over at NPR’s Code Switch notes, Mr. Ramsey has now joined Ted Williams, Antoine Dodson and others in sudden, and arguably condescending, internet celebrity.

While Mr. Ramsey should absolutely be lauded, thanked and recognized for his good deed, we do well to remember that he is a man.  He is not a superhero, and he does not need to be made into a flash celebrity who we worship for a brief time and then rip apart when we find that he is less perfect (as are we all) than we want him to be.  His privacy is just as important as that of the women he rescued.

We also do well to remember the reason for his sudden fame: He unwittingly liberated three women who had been all but given up for dead by investigators.  Questions about as to how that happened, how Michelle Knight’s case was so entirely overlooked, and how the three suspects were able to conceal their location for so long must be answered.  And so must Mr. Ramsey’s closing comments be addressed.  We have lots to do.

Read More

Twitter #Hashtag of the Week: Margaret Thatcher

Margaret ThatcherAs a non-British child, born outside of the UK in the mid-80s and completely unaware of Margaret Thatcher’s existence until after she was out of power, my life was largely untouched by her policies and actions–at least, not directly.  (Then again, perhaps my tuition at the University of Leeds was affected…  But never mind.)  The same is not true for millions of others of my generation and the ones before.  The #Hashtag of the week, coming rather early on this Tuesday, the 9th of April, is Margaret Thatcher.

On Monday morning, the 8th of April, Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87.  Since the news of her death broke, reaction to her legacy and her life has poured forth, in the form of editorials, demonstrations and, of course, tweets.  In a commentary published Monday by The Guardian, Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999, says:

The pre-eminent attribute in politics is courage; the moral courage to hold to the things you believe in. And this, like her or loathe her, she had in abundance.

It is because of her convictions, and her fierce determination to always stick to what she believed in that Margaret  Thatcher was so influential.  Her courage, or stubbornness as it can be seen, is why she remains a larger-than-life, legendary figure to this day.

If they weren’t well-known before today, the reasons Margaret Thatcher is such a divisive and polarizing figure are definitely clear now.  She believed in small government, and fought to move many public services into the private sector in the UK throughout the 1980s.  She was famously inflexible on her policies on labor unions, Northern Ireland, privatization, the economy and foreign affairs.

During her tenure as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, she was both praised and despised for leading the UK into the Falklands War, and her refusal to negotiate with labor unions saw unemployment rise to a record 3.3 million in 1984 (ref: The Independent, via Wikipedia).  She, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev are credited for ending the Cold War; and she is roundly criticized for “flirting” with South Africa’s racist apartheid government.

The Times of London: Celebrations in Glasgow upon Margaret Thatcher's Death
People celebrating Thatcher’s death in Glasgow

With the news of her death, people are writing tributes of praise for being a formidable woman in politics, while at the same time crowds are gathering in public places to celebrate her death.  For some (including myself) the idea of celebrating a person’s death (be that person other than say, Adolf Hitler or Satan incarnate) is horrifying.  But it only goes to show how deeply divisive Margaret Thatcher’s legacy is, and how the wounds inflicted during her tenure have not yet healed.

A clear example that Lady Thatcher regretted nothing about her policies came in 2009, when delivering a speech in Glasgow, Scotland (where the revelers above are pictured) she stuck to her conviction of the poll tax, and for cutting funding to curtail “the culture of dependency, which had done such damage to Britain.”

Even 19 years after leaving office, she held absolutely to the conviction that she had done right.

Some, like Mr. Ashdown, call this courage.  Others may call it stubbornness.  Was it a desire to prove that women are just as capable as men of getting things done?  Probably not.  I doubt Lady Thatcher worried too much about proving herself to be worthy to lead as a female.

From the little I know, and the research I’ve done on this post, I think her character simply did not allow her to compromise on what she thought was right.  Call it courage or stubbornness, it is a polarizing characteristic in anyone, most of all a politician.  But this must be said for the Iron Lady: She got things done.

Perhaps her courage, stubbornness, drive, and absolute certainty that what she was doing was right are things that politicians today should strive to emulate.  I am ill-qualified to judge whether her actions as Prime Minister were positive or negative for the UK, but she did take decisive action, to great effect.  That’s more than can be said for many politicians today.

It is certainly something to think about.

Read More