Tennessean op-ed likens Caitlin Clark’s reputation to Elvis Presley’s due to their ‘whiteness’

Caitlin Clark’s rise in the WNBA has sparked a fierce debate about her overwhelming reputation in girls’s basketball, particularly from those that argue that her race has performed a serious function in that success. 

Simply final month, The Tennessean revealed an opinion piece by opinion columnist Andrea Williams that likened Clark’s “marketability” to that of Elvis Presley’s within the Nineteen Fifties. The op-ed was revived this week when the Indianapolis Star republished the piece on Thursday. 

Elvis Presley performs on stage on the Ed Sullivan Present on January 6, 1957, in New York Metropolis. (Photograph by Steve Oroz/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Pictures) (Steve Oroz/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Pictures)

Williams recollects American report producer Sam Phillips saying, “If I may discover a white man who had a Negro sound and a Negro really feel, I may make one million {dollars}.”


Phillips signed widespread Black artists, like B.B. King, Little Milton and Howlin Wolf, however Williams stated he noticed his biggest success when he helped launch Presley’s profession in 1954. 

“​​Sam Phillips would go on to report Elvis Presley, a white man who achieved dizzying industrial success by molding his singing and dancing kinds to the Black artists, each gospel and secular, who’d formed the soundtrack of his youth,” Williams wrote. 

“However Elvis’s adoption/appropriation of Blackness is much less important to his stardom than his whiteness. If that wasn’t the case, the Black artists he emulated would’ve reached related heights themselves. As a substitute, in America — a predominantly white society with a really lengthy report of white supremacist ideologies — whiteness turns into the first normal by which all is measured and, in enterprise, the first market to which all merchandise are focused.”

Williams in contrast the scenario to the Indiana Fever rookie, and claimed that those who have related conversations are deemed as “race-baiters.” 

Caitlin Clark signs autographs

Caitlin Clark, #22 of the Indiana Fever, indicators autographs for followers after the sport towards the Chicago Sky on June 1, 2024, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Jeff Haynes/NBAE through Getty Pictures)

“To be clear: There are others who’ve addressed the enduring marketability of whiteness. They’ve spoken to the media’s prior refusal to push the WNBA with the identical fervor it’s had this 12 months. They’ve additionally talked about the truth that, earlier than A’ja Wilson’s not too long ago introduced Nike deal, no Black WNBA participant has had a signature shoe with a serious model since Candace Parker in 2010-11.” 


She later added, “So as a substitute of studying from this second and having real-time conversations concerning the intersection of race, gender, and sports activities in America, these of who know higher find yourself screaming into an empty, ineffective void whereas everybody else holds quick to their unfounded, ahistorical views.” 

Simply final month, Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson stated throughout an interview with The Related Press that race was a think about Clark’s stardom. 

“I believe it’s an enormous factor. I believe lots of people might say it’s not about Black and White, however to me, it’s,” Wilson stated. “It truly is since you could be top-notch at what you might be as a Black lady, however but perhaps that’s one thing that individuals don’t wish to see.”

“They don’t see it as marketable, so it doesn’t matter how laborious I work. It doesn’t matter what all of us do as Black girls, we’re nonetheless going to be swept beneath the rug. That’s why it boils my blood when individuals say it’s not about race, as a result of it’s.”

A'ja Wilson holds MVP trophy

A’ja Wilson, #22 of the Las Vegas Aces, celebrates with the MVP trophy after defeating the New York Liberty throughout Recreation 4 of the 2023 WNBA Finals at Barclays Middle on October 18, 2023, in New York Metropolis. The Aces defeated the Liberty 70-69.  (Sarah Stier/Getty Pictures)

Different notable sports activities figures have spoken on problem, like Corridor of Famer Charles Barkley, who has known as out what he stated is “petty nonsense.” He doubled down on his stance in a current look on OutKick’s “Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich.”

“They act like she did not earn it. The girl simply scored essentially the most factors ever by a person or a girl. ‘She’s solely getting this job as a result of she’s White.” Is race an element? Sure, race is an element. However her résumé speaks for itself. . . . They did not prop her up simply because she’s White,” Barkley stated.


Others, like LeBron James, have additionally spoken up about Clark’s success within the league. 

“The one factor that I like that she’s bringing to her sport: extra individuals wish to watch. Extra individuals wish to tune in. I noticed, for the primary time, they’d a chartered aircraft. For the primary time of their league historical past, they flew personal. That ought to be celebrated in its personal proper,” he stated.

Caitlin Clark huddles with teammates

Caitlin Clark, #22 of the Indiana Fever, huddles with teammates previous to a recreation towards the Seattle Storm within the recreation at Local weather Pledge Enviornment on Could 22, 2024, in Seattle, Washington.  (Steph Chambers/Getty Pictures)

“That ought to be celebrated, and it is due to Caitlin Clark. Don’t get it twisted. Don’t get it f—ed up. Caitlin Clark is the explanation why lots of nice issues are going to occur for the WNBA.”

For her half, Clark has stated that she believes extra consideration on the league will convey extra alternatives to the ladies’s recreation. 

“It does not have to be only one or two gamers, and I believe that even goes again to varsity. The parity in girls’s basketball is what’s making extra individuals wish to come watch it. I believe the extra we will unfold the love, present individuals, present their expertise, present their groups — that is simply going to proceed to raise it,” she stated final month.

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