This article originally appeared on levelman.com
Of all the examples that highlight the dangers posed by the fragility of men, few have frustrated me as much as the story of Asia Womack, a 21-year-old Black woman who was murdered in Dallas last week due to a man’s bruised ego over losing a basketball game. Yes, you read that right.
“This was supposed to be a friend of Asia’s. She’s eaten with the man,” Asia’s mother, Andrea Womack, told Dallas’ Fox 4 News. “She’s fed him, and he turned on her and killed her in a vicious way.”
In her obituary, the family notes the young woman affectionately referred to as “Fat Baby” had a lifelong love of basketball. She was also an active churchgoer who participated in the youth ministry at the Gospel Tabernacle Church in neighboring Mesquite, Texas, and studied kinesiology at Texas A&M Commerce. The obituary indicates Asia was known for having “a big heart filled with so much love, joy, and laughter” and describes her “smile that could brighten your day.”
The circumstances that have caused Asia’s loved ones to never see that smile again center on a pickup game she played last Monday evening. “We’re taking it kind of hard because it was senseless,” Asia’s aunt Juanita Smith explained to another local affiliate, NBC DFW 5. “I just don’t understand why you kill somebody over a basketball game.”
Asia’s family members acknowledged to reporters that there was some “trash talk” involved, but that sounds like any other sports game played. There’s no reason for anyone to die over that.
The Womack family’s pastor, Rev. John Delley, told CBS11 that he, too, had trouble understanding how a basketball game could result in this type of violence. “This is so senseless… you are embarrassed because a female beat you in basketball?”
With respect to the pastor, the use of “female” here has a lot to do with the underlying sexism that undoubtedly motivated Asia’s shooter.
I’m not saying the use of “female” alone makes a man a killer, but men who fail to see women as people deserving of equal respect often use that as a noun in place of “woman.” Asia might have been a female basketball player, but she was a woman. Women deserve that distinction for the sake of their humanity, not to mention proper grammar.
Asia’s alleged gunman, 31-year-old Cameron Hogg, is said to have been unable to handle not only the loss, but the teasing and taunting that erupted in response to losing presumably a low-stakes game to a woman.
Nevermind the fact that she’s a decade younger than him. Or that she apparently was a skilled basketball player. All that matters is that she was a woman, ergo, less than.
Based on the available reporting, Hogg seemed very intentional in allowing his frail ego and sexism to push him to violence. After he was said to have taken his kids and brother home, he returned to the park and shot Asia five times as she was walking home. His car is believed to have been captured speeding away by a nearby surveillance camera.
He left her dead on the sidewalk.
We live in a society that continues to instruct men to view women as not only weaker than men, but to see them as objects to be dominated by men. So men are told that they can’t lose anything to a woman—certainly not anything that requires physicality. When a man does, it’s not a testament to the athleticism of a woman but the perceived inadequacies of the man who lost.
It’s an attitude you often find in men who play sports, but it applies to men collectively in their broader treatment of women. And when it comes to Black women in particular, this mindset leads to a dangerous reality.
In “Black Women Deserve The Right To Be Free From Violence,” Alicia Nichols and Christina Jones write: “In 2020, every day in the United States, four Black women and girls were murdered by their husband, boyfriend, father, or another man they knew. In 2019, Black women accounted for 14 percent of the female population in the United States, while 28 percent of the females killed by males in single victim/single offender incidents where the race of the victim was known were Black. Firearms were the weapon most commonly used by males to murder Black women in 2019.”
As other Black women have expressed in response to Womack’s killing, the violence and attitude behind her death are common—and they can trace their own stories of men or boys losing their cool over “losing to a girl.” It makes me think of some of the little boys I’ve been tempted to stomp out for trying the same thing with one of my nieces.
None of this can change unless we confront misogyny at every level in every single person. Otherwise, we are complicit in the spread of violence against women.
There are so many four-letter words I want to use to describe a man like Cameron Hogg, but punk feels most fitting. A bench warrant has been issued for his arrest, but at present, he has not been apprehended.
“Detectives are still working the case,” said Dallas PD’s Kristin Lowman in a recent interview. “No one is in custody at this time. They’ve been working it since Monday night trying to find justice for Miss Womack.”
Someone that violent, stupid, and Black will most certainly be caught in due time. And while I won’t meet violent acts with violent rhetoric, I hope the rest of his life is marred by misery and containment.
And I want that misery to be spread to all men like him. Because women like Asia Womack shouldn’t have to die over a weak man and his pathetic ego.
They should be able to celebrate their wins in peace.
Michael Arceneaux is the New York Times bestselling author of I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé, I Don’t Want To Die Poor, and the forthcoming I Finally Bought Some Jordan’s.