Muhammad Ali died on Friday (June 3). In the hours since the 74 year old’s death, there has been much reporting about what he meant to the nation, as a legendary boxer who never shirked from telling the world how great he was and how America needed to do better by its Black citizens.
There has also been talk about how Ali—who left behind his birth name, Cassius Clay, when he converted to Islam in 1964—“transcended his race and his religion.” NBC News wrote: “Ali was an anti-establishment showman who transcended borders and barriers, race and religion.”
And then there was this tweet from Chris Myers, a sports journalist for Fox:
When you saw #Ali you didn’t see color you didn’t see religion you saw a gentle man who was a strong fighter,a Champion you could believe in— Chris Myers (@The_ChrisMyers) June 4, 2016
This talk of transcending race and religon drew immediate criticism for his erasure of Ali’s activism. From allegedly throwing his Olympic medal in the Ohio River in protest of racism, to losing his title and facing five years in jail when he refused to fight in the Vietnam War (“Shoot them for what? They never called me nigger.”), Ali was the original activist athlete.
And Twitter users wasted no time reminding the media of Ali’s true legacy. Here are a few of our favorite clapbacks:
@The_ChrisMyers like, Muhammad literally fought against people like YOU! You didn’t see his pain, his cultural upbringing, his way of life.— Young Bowel Movement (@SjonesiProduce) June 4, 2016
@The_ChrisMyers Ali was constantly reminding all you would hear about the injustice faced by ppl of color. Don’t twist his legacy, man.— (((Horatio))) (@Jhoratio) June 4, 2016
Black ppl transcended race is always about white racists inability to see Black ppl as worthy until we are so famous we’re humanized— Kunta QueenTe (@obaa_boni) June 4, 2016
“Ali transcended race.”— Brittany Packnett☔️ (@MsPackyetti) June 4, 2016
Translation: my white dominant culture was not properly centered in Ali’s life so I’ll do it in his death.
My blackness is not a burden to me.— Brittany Packnett☔️ (@MsPackyetti) June 4, 2016
It’s a burden to you.
I ain’t transcending nothin.
He fearlessly confronted anti-blackness and imperialism. So if you represent any of above, keep his beautiful name out yo filthy ass mouth.— Yazan (@zayt_zaatar) June 4, 2016