Fresh off a national debate about racist double standards from the recent NCAA women's basketball championship, the White House is walking back a bad idea proposed by first lady Jill Biden.
On Monday, Biden said she wanted the championship team, LSU, as well as the defeated team, Iowa, to visit the White House. She said, "I know we'll have the champions come to the White House, we always do. So, we hope LSU will come. But, you know, I'm going to tell Joe I think Iowa should come, too, because they played such a good game."
This would break with tradition; only the champions ever get invited to the White House. It seemed like a sloppy, peace-treaty attempt to break the tension of a national conversation that broke out over how the media covered LSU's win, particularly the "You can't see me" taunt used by Angel Reese that was identical to one that her Iowa opponent Caitlyn Clark used earlier in the NCAA tournament. While Clark got praise, Reese was slammed by some sports analysts, like ESPN's Keith Olbermann, who went so far as to call her an "idiot" for being disrespectful.
LSU's team is predominantly Black; Iowa is mostly white.
However good-natured Biden's gesture might have been in its intent, it was not welcomed by Reese, who mocked the double invite on Twitter and was backed up by others, including Stephen A. Smith.
Come Tuesday, the White House backed down, with no further mention of inviting Iowa. The press secretary tried to clarify Jill Biden's words, saying she was just celebrating the historic nature of the game, while Joe Biden talked about inviting the championship teams to the White House with no mention of the Iowa women's team.
It's a weird stumble from the Bidens, one that feels a lot like trying to heal the nation while stabbing Black athletes in the back. Even aside from the disrespect against LSU, it would’ve made for a truly awkward event (or more awkward than it will already be after this).
At least they didn't go through with this very, very bad idea.
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