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I’m not sure if you guys get it.

I’ve spent, literally, all day watching and reading about all things Coco Gauff, and most of what you Twitter and Media folks are writing about is kinda’ missing the point as far as I and my Instagram feed are concerned.

You think Coco is an inspiration for girls like me because she’s young, and Black, and potentially the second-coming of Serena.  (Which is all true.) But then you mistakenly go on to talk about her talent, and her parents’ support of her dream by way of moving their family from Georgia to Florida, and by then I’m lost.

That’s not why I care about Coco.  That’s not why I went to the library this weekend and printed the pic below from Google Images to paste on my wall at home:

Coco is a role model to me and my friends not just because she looks like us, but because she IS us.  She’s a Black Girl (capital B, capital G). She knows, more than most of y’all tweeting about her tennis prowess, that the only way to refer to Beyoncé’s mom is as “The Miss Tina.”  She also knows that while many in the media are talking about her being the youngest to reach the Round Of 16 at Wimbledon since Jennifer Capriati, Coco is leaving the U.K. after today’s loss to Simona Halep with $233,500 in prize money.  (Shout out to Newsweek for sourcing the kind of info lots of us Black Girls care about: https://www.newsweek.com/coco-gauff-wimbledon-how-much-earn-ranking-1448076)

Look, I’m not going to grow up to be Coco Gauff.  Aside from being raised in South Central Los Angeles and not having the resources Coco has already had access to over her brief 15 years, I’m just a foster kid doing the best I can to string together some family structure with the cards I’ve been dealt in my life. There’s no dad like Corey Gauff in my life.  And there probably never will be.


But that’s okay… because what inspires me about the Coco Gauff phenomenon is not that I can be like her, but that she is already in so many ways just like me.  A Black Girl who flips out when Jaden Smith @’s her on Twitter.  A girl of color who knows that comments like “Bro I wanna play like you” on your Instagram story are the highest form of social media praise possible.

Coco Gauff is an inspiration because she’s showing the world the same thing I would show if everyone suddenly cared about how good me and my friends are at braiding hair.  That we’re Black. And we’re real. And given the same opportunity and resources, we can do absolutely anything.

That’s why on this day when the fuzzy ball Coco hits happened not to go over the net as many times as she hoped for, I’m calling on all Black, Brown, and students of color across the United States to make college access their own personal tennis ball… and to do everything they can in school to train for a Bachelor’s Degree.  

From getting good grades, to taking rigorous AP and Honors classes, to studying for the ACT and SAT, the more we can be like Coco and get up out the hood where others can see us, the more we can inspire youth in our communities of origin to do the same.  

It is for that reason that Coco is a phenomenon.  Because you see her as we do. As a Black Girl.


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