For all those out there who aren’t into the NBA Finals the star of this past Western Conference Finals has not been phenomenal point guard Steph Curry but his adorable, unapologetic, ‘carefree as she wanna be’ two-year old Riley. Of course when there’s a little Black girl running around giving no care nor worry to how people feel about her behavior and her existence people all of a sudden feel a way. Peep The Crunk Feminist Collective’s wonderful analysis of what Riley Curry’s freedom means for all the other Black girls, and women, who have been sanctioned to be cautious and respectable over carefree and unapologetic.
Unlike many of my homegirls, my love with basketball goes far beyond the 2000 film featuring Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps. While I have never been able to play worth a damn (I’m an artist, not an athlete), my mama and older sister were basketball stars in our small town (my sister famously played on the boy’s team when we were in middle school, and gave them all they could handle). Work, life, bills and responsibilities (and the fact that I have not been fully wed to a professional team since the 90’s Bulls), I am generally disconnected from the NBA until this time of year when I jump on somebody’s bandwagon. This year was no different. I’ve been tuning in to the playoffs and post-game press conferences to see what’s what. Last night was no different. Enter Riley Curry, the two-year old daughter of 2015 NBA MVP Steph Curry.
While it is not uncommon for athletes to attend post-game interviews with their mini-me’s in tow, Riley Curry has sparked some interesting controversy following her father’s post-game interviews this week. On one hand, I get it. Reporters are frustrated because they are trying to do their job and the intermittent interruptions of a two-year old is a distraction. I have certainly been that chick at the restaurant, in the mall, or on the airplane who has wanted nothing more than for a parent to “control” their energetic and restless child who was kicking my seat, talking too loud, whining or wailing, invading my personal space, or otherwise vying for attention. I have also been around my fair share of two year olds (they don’t call it the terrible twos for nothing), and therefore find it unreasonable (and ridiculous) to expect a restless, bored and rightfully self-centered toddler to be still or be quiet. If anything, Riley’s presence has made an otherwise run of the mill presser entertaining. I also find it troubling that it is not until a little black girl is in the spotlight that it is suddenly a problem to bring you children to the podium. The daddy-daughter dynamic seems to be less appealing to sports reporters than father-son.
There are several dynamics happening, 1) an attempt to controversialize black male athletes’ relationship to media (remember Marshawn Lynch?), 2) an opportunity to recalibrate how black athletes have been characterized as fathers of small children (remember Adrian Peterson?), and 3) a policing of blackgirls via politics of respectability. I don’t think people know what to do with a blackgirl who is free and a father who is fostering, rather than stifling, that freedom.
Politics of respectability require a two year old to “act like a young lady.” Society wants her to do what society expects all women (and evidently girl-children) to do in public. They want her to sit, look pretty, be quiet, not take up space, not demand attention, not make a scene, not talk (back), and not move. If Riley were a mute prop, her presence on the stage with her father would be welcome. If Riley were a boy-child, her antics would be dismissed as biologically inherent peacocking. If she were white, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
READ MORE HERE!