If there is one thing that sport helps to unmask is the fact that we have so much work to do when it comes to issues of racism, sexism and other discriminatory practices. That was evident after LSU’s victory over Iowa in the NCAA women’s championship game.
Both teams and star players Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark left it all on the court in the Tigers’ 102-85 victory over the Hawkeyes.
But after the game, some took to social media and showed their true and often misguided colors.
Despite all of the excitement around the game, no one could stop talking about Reese’s “You Can’t See Me,” gesture at Clark, a moment that exposed the racism and hypocrisy rife in sports.
Yet the situation isn’t as simple as a gesture. Rather, it illustrates just how deeply anti-Black racism and misogynoir are rooted within all social institutions here in the US, including sports.
We often hear about racism and sexism in sports, particularly within sports media. But we need to be intentional in our use of language and think more deeply about the impact of anti-Black racism specifically, especially in light of all of the vitriol that’s been flung directly at Angel Reese.
Anti-Blackness functions in two ways. It:
1) Strips Blackness of value (dehumanizes)
2) Systematically marginalizes Black people.
Anti-Blackness essentially operates as an overt form of racism. The fact that White women and men are calling Angel Reese classless and disrespectful for using the same gesture that Clark did against Louisville in the Elite Eight is questionable at best and deeply anti-Black and misogynistic at its worst.
If you’re wondering where the dehumanization and marginalization are, look no further than the comments calling Reese “a piece of sh*t” or a “f**king idiot,” across Twitter.
These are clear indicators of the constant fact that we live in a world where Black girls and women are never given the benefit of the doubt. Where Black girls and women (and Black people broadly) are always suspect and always under suspicion. Our actions, when embodied by non-Black folk, are considered normal aspects of living, but Black people’s bodies are not respected or regarded as fully human. Serena Williams was often called out for throwing “tantrums,” reactions that sports commentators would chalk up to “boys will be boys,” when it came to grown white men.
“This is for the girls that look like me.”
Black girls and women are considered ratchet, or angry, and loud when in fact, they are passionate and engaging in the usual trash talk that comes with playing sports.
But who comes to our defense?
Who “rescues,” or “defends” Black girls and Black women?
Oftentimes, we are the ones who step in and protect us.
Angel Reese has known that from jump.
This content has been brought to you by First and Pen in partnership with TheHub.News. First and Pen “amplifies local sports stories from voices of color to the national conscience…”