April 17, 2024

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Hailey Van Lith says LSU's negative comments are fueled by racism

Hailey Van Lith says LSU's negative comments are fueled by racism

ALBANY, N.Y. — LSU guard Hailey Van Lith defended her team Sunday after a Los Angeles Times column called players “dirty freshmen,” and called those who view them negatively “racist toward my teammates.”

Van Lith said the team watched the commentary before Saturday's Sweet 16 game against UCLA. She wishes they hadn't read it because “it can crush your spirit a little bit that someone would say that about us who doesn't know us.”

“We have a lot of black women on this team, and unfortunately that bias still exists today, and a lot of people who make these comments are being racist toward my teammates,” said Van Lith, who is white. . “I'm in a unique situation where, seeing for myself, I'm going to talk dirty and I'm going to get a different reaction than if it were Angel [Reese] Trash talks. I have a duty to my teammates to have their backs. Some of the words used in that article were very sad and disturbing.

“Calling us dirty newbies, that has nothing to do with the sport. That's not motivating. But in my opinion, I know for a fact that people look at us differently because we have a lot of black women on our team who have an attitude.” “And I like to talk trash and have people feel a certain way about it. And at the end of the day, I rock with them because they don't let it change who they are. They stay true to themselves, so I'll have their back.”

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During her postgame press conference after LSU's 78-69 win over UCLA, Tigers coach Kim Mulkey also tore down the column depicting her team's game against the Bruins as a “reckoning” between good versus evil, calling it “sexist” and “terrible.” And brutality. “mistake.”

Van Lith, who grew up in Wenatchee, Washington, spent the first three years of her career at Louisville before transferring to LSU last season. She said she saw the way people criticized the Tigers last year during their national championship run, particularly the debate surrounding Reese after she pointed her ring finger and made the John Cena “You can't see me” hand gesture, and waved her hand across her face toward Kaitlyn Clark. .

Van Lith said she has also witnessed double standards dating back to her prep days.

“I experienced it in Louisville. I've experienced it my whole life,” Van Lith said. “A lot of times, I'm one of the only white people on the team, so I see things from a different perspective. I think a lot of people who live in communities where everyone is like them, that's when they tend to. To think, 'Oh,' Racism doesn't exist today.” But I've seen it and lived it, and I'm watching it happen to my teammates, and I'm watching it happen to my friends.

“So, when I come home, which is a mostly white community, I share those experiences. When I was in high school, they tried to cancel the Martin Luther King Jr. meeting because we didn’t have enough time for that.” But every other holiday we had what Enough time. We were in a predominantly white high school, so no one had a problem with it. “It's my responsibility to say things when it happens because I'm in a unique position.”

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Reese said the way the Times comment described her team was “not the first time,” and she couldn’t worry about how she and her team were perceived.

“It motivates us every time someone says something bad about us or crazy about us,” Reese said. “It motivates us. It makes us hungrier, makes us want to go out there and win more. So, I love that about our team. Being a part of LSU has been great, and I absolutely love it. People will believe you and say what they want to say about you.” You can't change people's perceptions of you, so leave it as it is. “I mean, I don't really care.”

The Los Angeles Times removed some of the language in the column, including its reference to “dirty newbies,” later Saturday, saying in a statement that it “does not meet the Times' editorial standards.” The newspaper did not respond to ESPN's request for comment.