Coco Gauff And The Inevitable Lost Innocence Of Black Youth

Coco Gauff’s heartbreaking tweet is what black girls and boys are feeling today about another black American killed by the police.
Coco Gauff’s heartbreaking tweet is what black girls and boys are feeling today about another black American killed by the police.
Illustration: Eric Barrow (AP)

It was only a matter of time.

For 16 years, Coco Gauff had been able to escape it. But on Tuesday night, it finally happened.


“I am in tears watching this video... everyday innocent people are dying because of our skin color. No one deserves to die like that. I just can’t believe this. This needs to stop. #GeorgeFloyd,” the young black tennis phenom tweeted.

Tuesday was the day when Gauff had her public breaking point. Realizing that this world doesn’t care about people that look like her. The bliss that came along with her youthful ignorance is gone, forever. One of the best tennis players on Earth, who may not even have her driver’s licenses yet, is digesting the fact that her fame, fortune, and talents will never be enough to make people see her humanity because their initial focus will always be on her blackness.

Just last summer, Gauff was a media darling. The then-15-year-old became a household name after a magical run at Wimbledon. She became the youngest woman to qualify for the tournament in the modern era and would go on to defeat Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova, and Polona Hercog. By the fall she had won her first singles title at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz.

But right now, Gauff, like most of Black America, can only think about the hell we’ve experienced over the past few days and weeks.

The video of George Floyd hit the internet on Tuesday, and, yet again, we watched another black man killed by the police for simply being black.


“Please, please. I can’t breathe,” can be heard Floyd pleading on the smartphone video.


“I can’t breathe, officer.”

He wasn’t resisting, he could barely move as his life was being taken from him. He was just black.


It was a replay of Eric Garner’s last words from 2014 when a banned chokehold by the NYPD ended his life.

The crime?

He was selling loose cigarettes.

For Floyd, he was allegedly trying to use counterfeit money at a Minneapolis store. You know, the same state where police killed Philando Castile when he was in the car with his girlfriend and four-year-old daughter for informing them that he had a gun in his possession.


The rules don’t apply when you’re black.

Gauff, like most of Black America, is probably still furious about the latest “Karen” incident, as Amy Cooper called the police on Christian Cooper – no relation – a black man, in Central Park because she got upset when Christian informed her that she was breaking the rules by not having her dog on a leash.


The rules never apply when you’re white.

Amy called the police, telling Christian, “I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”


Cooper has since been fired from her job, banned from Central Park, and had her dog taken away. Some feel that the punishment is too harsh. I say, ask the Central (Exonerated) Park Five what they think about it.

And lastly, Gauff, like most of Black America, is probably still reeling from the death of Breonna Taylor, a Kentucky EMT that was shot and killed by police during a raid of her home when her boyfriend fired shots in self-defense as police allegedly entered without knocking or announcing themselves.


They were looking for drugs.

They found nothing.

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you how this is why Colin Kaepernick took a knee. But at this point, you know that already. That is unless you think like Jay-Z, because according to him, “I think we’ve moved past kneeling.”


I wonder how he feels now knowing that George Floyd lost his life when a police officer was on the ground, kneeling, his knee rammed in Floyd’s neck, Floyd unable to breathe, gasping for air and life. The four officers involved in the killing of George Floyd have been fired, yet no charges have been filed.

Gauff probably went to bed Tuesday night tired and mentally exhausted, like most of Black America. But, that’s the norm for us in this country. It’s an emotional war, and we’re all veterans.


It’s never post-traumatic stress disorder; it’s endless.

On Tuesday night, Coco Gauff the black girl, first, and tennis star, second, was enlisted.


At the tender age of 16.

Saginaw Native. Morehouse Man. Syracuse (Newhouse) Alum. 2019 & 2020 NABJ Award Winner. 2016 PABJ Journalist of the Year. I only eat my wings lemon-peppered. And I like brown liquor & brown women.