Power is not meant to be held in a clenched fist…Power is meant to be handled generously so that we can thoughtfully empower each other to thrive in our societies…Put our humanity ahead of our ambitions.
UConn Husky and Minnesota Lynx legend Maya Moore spoke the above words in the rousing speech she gave upon receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on Saturday night ESPYs party.
“Power is not meant to be held in a clenched fist,…power is meant to be handled generously so that we can thoughtfully empower each other to thrive in our societies,…defend our humanity before our ambitions.” –Tweet embed pic.twitter.com/NcLo4VdfPh
– ESPN (espn) July 11, 2021
At the same party, another UConn Husky, a Minnesota native, modeled what Moore described. Paige Bueckers, who won Best College Athletic (Women’s Sports), used her platform to share her power. She did not “grab” an award that was a product of her ambitions, but instead “generously” empowered others by emphasizing the importance of black women’s basketball in her acceptance speech.
With the light I now have as a white woman leading a black-led sport and celebrating here, I want to shine a light on black women. They don’t get the media coverage they deserve. They have given so much to sport, society and society at large and their value is undeniable.
Big Bakers #ESPYAwards Speech
“I want to shine a spotlight on black women. They don’t get the media coverage they deserve. They have given so much to sport, society and society at large and their value is undeniable.”pic.twitter.com/4PCWTyxYKM
– Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 11, 2021
The Bakers then went even further, calling on the sports media — where ESPN, the organizer of the ESPYs, is the main power player and, by extension, the main culprit — to insufficiently exaggerate black sports and their achievements. She said:
Sports media are key storylines. Sports media and sponsors tell us who was valuable, I told the world I mattered today, and to everyone who voted, thank you. But I think we should use that power together to also celebrate black women.
Here’s why Beckers’ speech resonated.
Disadvantages of the White Alliance
Over the past year, the sports world has announced its dedication to advancing black lives and black voices. However, achieving this position has often proven difficult, especially in a sports culture that has long instinctively characterized white athletes and their accomplishments. The privilege of white athletes was particularly evident in women’s basketball, where black women in the WNBA were at the forefront of athlete activism on issues of racial justice and equality.
like Jemele Hill wrote on Instagram In response to Beckers’ letter:
A big problem in general in women’s basketball at the college and professional level is the lack of recognition and support for black women who occupy the sport. Paige understands the game within the game.
Or, more often than not, white athletes seem to have separated their moments of alliance and advocacy from those of their ambition and achievement. In general, white women basketball players have shown themselves to be ardent allies, using their social media platforms, in particular, to advocate for racial justice and recognition for the work of black women. This low-stakes alliance is important.
However, when the stakes are high, ambition tends to overwhelm allies. White women continued to accept a disproportionate amount of media coverage (still too little) and endorsements (still too little) for women’s basketball, without protest, choosing not to use their privileges to challenge media organizations or corporations as well. Dedicate its representative and/or financial resources to black women.
While outside the women’s basketball world, the Case involving ESPN’s Rachel Nichols Embodies the limits of the White Alliance. Although Nichols has often used her TV show “The Jump” to highlight racial justice initiatives in the NBA, her support for racial equality was interrupted when it required relinquishing her power to open an opportunity for fellow ESPN teammate Maria Taylor. Nichols, to borrow Moore’s words again, “captured” her power with a “grabbed fist”, “advocating” her “ambitions” rather than “thoughtful empowerment”[ing]Taylor.
Bakers did the opposite.
The positive reaction to her rhetoric, especially from black women, hints at the ways in which many white athletes, as well as other white women in sports, have not reckoned their all-white, and (many) privileges. comes with.
I just saw Big Wow’s letter…..
This was unexpected
— Devereaux *regular fan* Peters (@MsPeters14) July 11, 2021
Can the media de middle white athletes?
In a post-ESPYs conversation with defeated, Beckers shared in the genesis of her speech:
Over the last couple of years I’ve just had a lot of attention in the media and a lot of it focused on me and other white athletes and I just want to use my platform to share the spotlight and.. • Broaden horizons for who gets attention and who gets social media followers.
Not surprisingly, one of the unintended consequences of Beckers’ rhetoric was more interest in her and her white ally, rather than a concern for black women as she had intended. This course – where white athletes ceding space to black athletes get credit and coverage for their selection – is further evidence of how strongly white athletes are positioned in the sports media.
with the implementation of New NCAA PolicyThis economy of interest is more valuable to college athletes. It is very likely that Baker’s speech will inspire a number of companies to consider investing in them. If these companies really listened to their words—and not simply fascinated by the well-balanced white young woman speaking the words—they would reach out to black athletes about endorsement opportunities. They could start with the black women who are the Bakers teammates on the UConn team: Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Kristen Williams, Evina Westbrook, Aubrey Griffin, Alia Edwards, Mere McLean, Beath Gabriel, Izzi Fudd, and Amari Deberry.
Then there are the black women who belong to the National Champion Stanford Cardinal: Anna Wilson, Haley Jones, Fran Biliby and Agnes Emma Nobu. Two other teams expected to compete for the 2022 national title – South Carolina and Maryland – have a number of talented black football players. There’s the rookie trio of Aliyah Boston, Brea Beal, and Zia Cooke, among others, for Gamecocks. The Terrapins are led by the likes of Ashley Owusu, Diamond Miller and Angel Reese. Elsewhere in the country, there’s Ryan Howard in Kentucky, Nalissa Smith in Baylor, and Naz Helmon in Michigan.
These names are just the tip of the iceberg. Women’s college basketball is filled with gorgeous, attractive, sexy and stylish young black women who deserve the spotlight and whatever financial opportunities come with it.
Paige you get “it”. Will the media and sponsors also get ‘that’?