James in the mailbag this week. A thousand
to Jon Wertheim for putting this person in his/her place. James Blake is black. Yeah, and? He's also half-white. So what? I'd hate to think that Blake has attracted "fans" who are ONLY interested in his skin color (much like what the Williams sisters did). Haven't we as a society already moved on from this kind of b.s.? /end rant
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Blake only the second African-American male tennis player in HISTORY (all caps there for the added effect!) to crack the top 10? Mal Washington made it to No. 11, but I feel there's a big gap between saying 10 and 11. Why do you think more hasn't been more made of this in the media about this HISTORIC (more added effect) event? I understand race and difference should ideally be downplayed, but geez! This is huge! I told my sister she needs to get my 7-year-old tennis-playing nephew on the James Blake bandwagon as someone to look up to that looks like him in the game.
-- Van Sias, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Good question. But maybe this is ultimately a sign of progress. It's not as though Blake's achievement went unheralded. We learned that it was a career high ranking. We learned that it represented the first time in six years that three Americans inhabited the top 10. Many of you rightfully remarked that irrespective of rankings, Blake was playing he best tennis of any American. It's just that this was never framed in terms of race. I would submit that we didn't see past it; we just saw beyond it. And while your nephew ought to get on the James Blake bandwagon, so should the kids who don't happen to look like him.