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Aliyah Boston declines ESPYs invite, calls out ‘erasure’ of Black women

Aliyah Boston leads South Carolina into 2022-23 after a trophy-filled junior season. (Bri Lewerke/Just Women's Sports)

Aliyah Boston released a statement on Wednesday, revealing that she had declined an ESPYs invite after ESPN received backlash over a lack of initial invitation.

“To be nominated for an ESPY this year meant the world to me and my family,” she wrote, adding that while it hurt to learn that she would not be invited due to ESPN opting not to televise the Best College Athlete, Women’s Sport category, their reversals “hurt more.”

“It hurt more to see ESPN change course and invite me only after social media caught wind of it,” she wrote. “Respectfully, I declined.”

She also congratulated Jocelyn Alo, who won the ESPY, as well as other winners. Alo later responded to the statement, writing: “So well said, can’t wait to see you kill this year! You know what to do.”

Further on in her statement, Boston called out the disparities that Black women face in media coverage, saying she is “used to this.”

“It’s just another moment when the disrespect and erasure of Black women is brushed off as a “mistake” or an “oversight,” she wrote. “Another excuse for why our milestones and accomplishments aren’t a “priority” this time, even now, 50 years after Title IX.

“To every Black girl and every Black woman: no one can take away what God has in store for us. You matter. You are valuable. You are a priority. You are seen, and you are LOVED — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley called out her star player’s lack of invitation last week. The fact that Boston wasn’t invited was further heightened by the fact that Paige Bueckers, who won the same award last year, was invited and highlighted the disparities Black women face in media coverage during her acceptance speech.

Bueckers later quoted the tweet, writing: “A system that needs change. The fight continues and there is a need for REAL & PERMANENT change, not temporary fixes to protect an image. All love Aliyah, you deserve much much better.”

Other categories were not invited, such as Best NWSL Player, while Diamond DeShields was not originally listed as a nominee for Best Comeback Athlete.