America (Angel), The Beautiful
I’ve never been an athletic person. As a matter of fact, in grade school, I was always the last one standing when it came time to select teams for kickball. It was a childhood tragedy, for sure!
You don’t need to be an athletic person to understand that trash talk is a big part of competitive sports. That’s what America is as a country, and it celebrates that fact, and now people want to judge a young Black woman on a basketball court for being the new face of unapologetic swag.
Angel Reese of LSU, newly crowned women’s college basketball national champion, will continue to be excellent though.
“All year, I was critiqued about who I was,” Reese said. “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. It’s unapologetically you.”
Nearly 10 million people watched the women’s championship, and that viewership set a new record for women’s college basketball. A basketball game suddenly morphed into directions that transcend beyond sports when Reese, openly taunted Iowa’s best player, Caitlin Clark, with one of Clark’s own signature ego-centric hand gesture.
Caitlin Clark borrowed this from pro wrestling’s John Cena; waving his hand in front of his face in a symbolic gesture that means “you can’t see me.” Here’s the thing: John Cena actually got the move from G Unit’s Tony Yayo, and rightfully gave him his flowers. Now, it’s one of the great social-media memes of pop culture.
It’s all fun and games, apparently, until a Black woman tries it out on a white basketball rival who everyone was being celebrated for having “swag” on the court when she did the same thing.
Let’s be clear, Caitlin Clark is a tremendous player. She’s a player that talks her ish and can back it up.
“You can’t see me” Reese signed to Clark at the end of the game, one fellow trash-talker to another, and, unsurprisingly, it set off a slew of angry people (white people, to be exact) trying really hard to explain why they were so mad at Reese in ways that had nothing to do with race.
We all know what it is.
All the fighting words came out: classless, poor sportsmanship, piece of sh*t, and even juvenile delinquent. The great irony of this isn’t that Clark used the exact same taunt during the game. It really amounts to Reese’s unapologetic attitude being in the same spirit of this country that her critics celebrate and champion every single day.
Again, and again and again, this country’s ignorance towards Black women remains undefeated. Regardless of what we say or do, it will be a problem because we don’t stay in the place we’re expected to. We can win, but not celebrate. We can achieve, but not above our white counterparts.
Angel made pissed white men off. Grown white men had a visceral reaction to a 20-year-old college student being confident on the basketball court. What is it that you really want from her? It’s certainly not the same thing you want from Caitlin Clark. Oh no, that’s not what we do in this country. More importantly, Black women are tired of twisting and changing ourselves to meet the racist status quo. America was formed by the hands of Angel Reese’s celebration. It’s all there even if sometimes people won’t admit to it.
Caitlin Clark came out to defend Angel Reese in light of this nationwide controversy. "I don't think Angel should be criticized at all," Clark said. "No matter which way it goes, she should never be criticized for what she did." She praised the LSU team, congratulated them on being national champions, and hoped they enjoy the moment in being celebrated at the White House.
I’m glad that she said something, although she didn’t have to. It serves as a reminder that these young women shouldn’t even be in the middle of this.
The force of LSU’s new basketball icon is so poetically American that she’s even called “Bayou Barbie.” In her moment on the court, Reese was the face of her country and her hand was the soul of a nation. What does the hand say to the face? “You can’t see me,” and I don’t know who’s better for it, but it made me proud as a Black woman. And as sure as salt, it tasted just like America.