Angel Reese is an NCAA champion, racist trolls be damned

Sunday night marked a Banner moment for NCAA women’s basketball, and especially for LSU, who took home the program’s first-ever March Madness trophy after defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85. Central to the historic win was LSU sophomore star Angel Reese, who was named the top player during the women’s Final Four showdown. She led LSU to the most points in NCAA championship history And set the NCAA record for most double-doubles (34) in a single season, after to women’s sport only. She’s an NCAA champion first, and she deserves her title ring — and her crown– without complications.

But that’s not how an embarrassing part of the internet — more racist white men on Twitter — saw things. In the final seconds of Sunday night’s championship game, with the championship all but secured for LSU, Reese shot John Cena’s infamous “You Can’t See Me” Gesture to Caitlin Clark of Iowa – one of the standout players of the tournament’s “generation” and widely recognized as such create the game in real time. Then, after the buzzer went off, Reese tapped her ring finger while still staring at Clark.

Trolls like Barstool’s Dave Portnoy called Reese, 20, a “classless piece of shit” for it, while Keith Olbermann (some podcaster) called she is a “damn idiot”. Olbermann later apologized while still arguing that Reese’s MVP performance was overshadowed by her “classless” behavior. basketball giants like Lebron James And Shaquille O’Neal even got involved and defended Reese’s right to be her authentic self (a “black queen” like her says) in court. In the words of Shaq, Olbermann can “close up [his] Fool up.”

But as people (read: “misogynists”) continued to harp about the nature of Reese’s celebration, the word “mocking” started trending on Twitter.

Here’s the thing: Caitlin Clark, who is white, made the same gesture last week when Iowa beat Louisville in the Elite Eight, and nobody made a fuss. Let me get this straight: The internet was quick to comment on Clark’s celebration, but mostly positively. Cena himself gave Clark his approval stampwhile others said so gesture made her “so fun to watch”. sports illustrated wrote that Clark “had some fun later in the game when she performed one of the wildest celebrations you’ll ever see.” All around, most viewers seemed to agree that Clark’s “wild” chirping only aided the game and the argument that female athletes should be able to talk shit just like their male colleagues. Reese, meanwhile, was repeated called a “beater” for it.

The racist commentary surrounding Reese’s end-of-game celebration isn’t at all shocking given the widespread misogyny that runs deep in women’s basketball. While male basketball players are occasionally called out for excessive trash talk, most taunts are passed off as the natural bragging rights and aggression inherent in the game. Meanwhile, female athletes have always been monitored for their appearance and behavior on the court, particularly their inability to hit some patriarchal standard of honesty: too loud, too emotional, too manly, too reactionary. For black women who Examination multiplies tenfold.

For example, 2021 was a photo of the South Carolina Gamecocks’ Aliyah Boston crying after a loss widespread and ridiculed. Instead of allowing Boston to feel anguish over a devastating game, her emotion became a meme. That year, Boston got emotional again during a press conference and had to ask the press not to photograph her in such a vulnerable state. “These players should be allowed to show emotion without fear of armed images,” said journalist Arielle Chambers tweeted the interaction. “We as a media must take special precautions when it comes to detecting implicit bias before it seeps into our reporting.”

Another example: Friday was Gamecocks coach and WNBA legend Dawn Staley forced to address allegations that their on-court championship-winning program was too physical after they lost to Iowa in the Final Four. A reporter asked how she would react if other programs and teams called their players “bullyers.” (The team is made up mostly of black women.) For them, physicality in the game is coded as bullying, which in turn creates racial stereotypes about black women.

“The truth about our team… We’re not bartenders. We are not thugs. We are not monkeys. We’re not street fighters,” Staley said. “This team exemplifies how to approach basketball on and off the court.”

Speaking to ESPN’s Elle Duncan, Reese explained why she made the cena gesture (though of course she wouldn’t have to): “I’ve been waiting. Caitlin Clark is one hell of a player for sure. But I don’t take disrespect lightly… I had a moment at the end of the game. I was in my pocket. I was in the moment.” Even Clark himself didn’t find any of it a big thing: “I was just trying to get to the handshake line and shake hands and be grateful that my team was in that position. All the credit in the world to LSU. They were enormous. They earn it.”

And during the post-game press conference, Reese doubled down on her Championship-winning behavior and the racist double standard under which she is vilified:

“All year I’ve been criticized for who I am. I don’t fit into the narrative. I don’t fit into the box you want me to be in. i’m too shit I’m too ghetto. You’ve been telling me that all year. When others do it and you don’t tell her. So this is for the girls who look like me. For those who want to stand up for what they believe in. You are without apologies. And that’s what I do [did] before tonight. It was bigger than me tonight. And Twitter will rage every time.”

Instead of just celebrating her achievements, Reese was forced to switch off even nonsensical racists. But that didn’t stop the MVP from ecstasy She earns. And no, her will not keep their celebrations “cute”.

“I feel like I’ve contributed to the growth of women’s basketball this year. I’m super happy and excited. I don’t care about others and what they have to say about me. I don’t care about being All-American. I don’t care about being defensive player of the year, player of the year. The biggest goal is to be national champion and I achieved that,” Reese also said during press after the game. “I can only brag about that. Twitter can say what Twitter can say. I love reading these comments. I have all the screenshots of what has been said about me throughout the season. What do you want to say now?”

And that’s Angel Reese’s last laugh. Angel Reese is an NCAA champion, racist trolls be damned

Adam Bradshaw

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