On Sunday evening, cheers went up as Louisiana State University (LSU) beat the University of Iowa in the women's NCAA tournament final, but there were rumblings about LSU star, Angel Reese’s behavior.
It all began, well, I’ll let NPR break it down: “LSU forward Angel Reese celebrated the Tigers' fourth-quarter lead (and imminent victory) by waving one hand in front of her face—a gesture popularized by the wrestler [John Cena] as "You Can't See Me"—and tapping her ring finger while looking pointedly at Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark. The moment quickly went viral, with commentators and observers criticizing Reese for what they perceived as unsportsmanlike taunting of Clark. The word ‘classless’ even trended on Twitter.”
Which is how I became aware of the situation, because I don’t watch sports. It’s a tale as old as time. A Black woman is dominating in her field and the whites get heated.
Some of the lowlights include 64-year-old white man, sports and political commentator, Keith Olbermann, calling Reese a “f*cking idiot,” and middle-aged blogger, David Portnoy, referring to the 20-year-old as a “classless piece of sh*t.”
Suddenly, my Sunday night doom scrolling was interrupted by quote tweet after quote tweet about the double standards Black women and Black people face when we exist in front of white people and behave, in any way, they might deem inappropriate.
Both men were taken to task for their racist statements by many Twitter users who pointed out that both women were using the same gestures during the game but the commentators only seemed to lob these statements at Reese, who is Black, but not at Clark, who is white.
As is usual in these situations of being loud and wrong on Twitter, they spent the rest of the evening doubling down on their claims, pretending race had nothing to do with their statements, and insinuating—or outright stating—everyone who took issue with what they said were the actual problem. Both tweets remain on their respective Twitter timelines at the time of publishing.
But their behavior and feelings on the matter are being regurgitated all over Twitter almost 24 hours later. There’s a push by many white sports fans to diminish and downplay LSU’s win and Reese’s contribution to the team by reminding people that Clark broke scoring records throughout the NCAA women’s basketball championship. What many fail to mention, as they “well-actually” about Clark’s accomplishments, is that Reese also broke records throughout the championship and was named by NCAA as this year’s Women's Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
What’s funny—and by funny, I mean sinister, violent, and essential to upholding white supremacy—is when you look at how white people typically interpret competition, the only thing that matters is winning. Now we are watching in real time as they self-soothe by moving the goal post, whine about proper decorum, and what excellence means because the predominately white University of Iowa Hawkeyes, didn’t quite cut it over the mostly Black, LSU Tigers. I’m sure had this been two white teams going up against each other, Reese would not have to suffer through the vitriol.
And if you think this behavior is only happening on social media, think again. When you look up Angel Reese on Google Trends, where you can find out what related topics and queries people are searching for, it becomes pretty stark. That list of rising term searches being made along with her name includes taunting, sportsmanship, poor sportsmanship, classless, gesture, taunting, middle finger, taunting Caitlin Clark, flipping off, and both men I mentioned earlier in this piece.
Misogynoir at its finest, everyone!
I used the word suffer, but I don’t think Reese is going to be kept up at night about the foolishness of white folks. Our good sis refuses to shrink for the whites crying and throwing up all over themselves on Twitter.
At the post-game press conference, she shared her thoughts on her detractors.
“I don’t fit in a box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. But when other people do it, y’all say nothing. So this was for the girls that look like me, that’s going to speak up on what they believe in," Reese said. "It’s unapologetically you.”
Perdita Patrice is a Texas-based writer and documentary filmmaker. She enjoys live music, reading, and watching TV. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @perditapatrice