Reese spoke out about what she went through BUT after her loss, she was criticized again.

The reward for being their true, authentic selves is the full arsenal of America’s disdain

LSU forward Angel Reese looks on during the second half against Iowa in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA women’s tournament at MVP Arena on April 1 in Albany, New York.

LSU women’s college basketball phenom Angel Reese sat at the postgame podium after a disappointing loss to No. 1 ranked Iowa – led by rival superstar Caitlin Clark – with tears in her eyes as she pleaded for compassion.

“I’ve been through so much,” she began. “I’ve seen so much. I’ve been attacked so many times, death threats. I’ve been sexualized. I’ve been threatened. I’ve been so many things, and I’ve stood strong every single time.”

Reese has spent the last year of her college career – she declared for the WNBA draft Wednesday – trying to play basketball and enjoy her life. But, as is the case any time a Black woman is in any spotlight, greatness is always accompanied by misogyny and racism.

Reese became a polarizing figure during last year’s championship game when she taunted Clark and naysayers as the game ended.

First, she waved her hands in front of her own face – a “you can’t see me” gesture invented by rapper Tony Yayo and popularized by WWE star John Cena.

It was also a gesture Clark herself had been using against her opponents all postseason.

Reese also pointed to her ring finger to celebrate, similar to what Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry did when his team clinched the title in 2022.

But Reese doesn’t get to taunt others like her male counterparts.

She has been one of the biggest villains in sports ever since, with race and gender at the center of that vilification.

Podcaster Keith Olbermann called Reese an “idiot.” Danny Kanell of CBS Sports called the move classless.

Reese found herself caught in the middle of a favorite American pastime of bashing a Black woman in the pursuit of protecting a darling, beloved white one.

LSU forward Angel Reese speaks with the media after losing to Iowa 94-87 in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA women’s tournament at MVP Arena on April 1 in Albany, New York.


The abuse Reese has received has spread far beyond insults from talking heads, which were bad enough. Last year, fake AI nude photos of Reese were circulated online.

Social media has been flooded with anti-Reese hate speech. For most of the season, the star has stayed relatively quiet about it, pushing through to an All-American-level season and leading her team to the Elite Eight.

In the lead-up to the game against Iowa, Reese acknowledged and accepted the antagonist role she was given: “I’ll take the villain role. I’ll take the hit for it, but I know we’re growing women’s basketball.” But embracing a role of villain shouldn’t include having to deal with such vitriol off the court.

Before the game, though, a Los Angeles Times article called the LSU team “dirty debutantes,” as the rematch to the championship game drudged up the same racially divisive fandom as it did last year.

When Reese finally spoke up about what she went through, after the loss, she was again bashed. Sports podcaster Jason Whitlock posted an image with her at the front with the phrase “Diary of Mad Black Women” and tweeted “they’re going to destroy what Caitlin Clark built.”

The most viral reaction, though, came from Fox Sports analyst Emmanuel Acho, who had previously called out racism against Reese, but did a full 180, saying “In sports, you can’t act like the big bad wolf, then cry like courage the cowardly dog.”

It can’t be overstated how absurdly harmful it is to go on TV and use the words “cowardly” and “dog” to address a Black woman. In Acho’s statement, he also claimed that he was making a “gender neutral and racially indifferent take” on Reese.

What Acho, and many like him, fail to understand is that there’s no way to discuss Reese, or any Black woman in America – especially one who dares to be great – without talking about race and gender.

Just look at tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, who faced unspeakable racism on their way to dominance and were also at the center of supposed rivalries with beloved white stars and maligned for daring to defeat them.

Look at the anti-trans bias behind the Caster Semenya rule that governs maximum testosterone levels in women’s bodies. Or that the Utah women’s basketball team had to change hotels after receiving racist threats and hate speech during their stay in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for NCAA tournament games in Spokane, Washington.

Even outside of sports: It shouldn’t be lost on us that in the same week as Reese is crying about how she’s being treated, Beyoncé released an album as a response to the treatment she received at the Country Music Awards for daring to make a great country song in 2016.

All of these women have something in common: They didn’t desire to be the focal point of racism and misogyny. They just wanted to dribble basketballs, run their races and sing their songs.

They didn’t bring race into anything. They brought their true, authentic selves and their reward was the full arsenal of America’s disdain for Black women.

“Stick to sports” has been a rallying cry for people who want Black athletes to stop talking about social issues. They argue that athletes should spend their time homing in on political and societal issues instead of simply trying to win.

The hypocrisy here is that these athletes have been sticking to sports. Reese’s taunting came on the court. She’s been dominant and trash-talking on the court.

And yet the abuse she’s received has come off the court, and mostly unrelated to her actual play. Instead, it’s been about her race and gender, two things Black women are often told to be silent about.

Reese and women like her would love to be able to focus all of their energy on their passions without having to defend their humanity at every turn.

Until that happens, there will never be a way to talk about them without talking about their gender or their race. Pretending otherwise is an insult to everyone involved.

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