Posted on May 1, 2024

Like Eminem and Elvis Presley, Here’s Why Caitlin Clark Is the Newest Great White Hope

Wayne Washington, The Root, April 24, 2024

Caitlin Clark has generated tons of interest in women’s basketball because of her long-range shooting and deft passing. {snip}

But some of the mania connected to Clark goes beyond the hardwood. She is the newest Great White Hope — a straight white woman excelling in a sport dominated by Black women.

{snip} Great White Hope Syndrome isn’t a new thing in sports. It’s not even limited to sports. All that’s needed for the syndrome to take root is Black dominance in an area that generates great prominence or wealth or both.

In boxing, Gerry Cooney emerged to provide hope that he could beat Black heavyweight champion Larry Holmes. Didn’t happen. In Rock ‘n Roll, Elvis Presley was the radio- and TV-safe version of Black musicians whose style and flair was, ahem, “borrowed” by the “king.”

In rap, Eminem was the first white rapper to hit it big, breaking through at a time when the genre was just about entirely Black and brown.

Those embraced as a Great White Hope aren’t always devoid of skill and talent…it’s that their success is trumpeted at a deafening pitch and their prominence rises out of proportion to their actual accomplishment.