The following is excerpted from Common Sense. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.

Last month, Rachel Richardson—the only black starter on the women’s volleyball team at Duke University—leveled a shocking accusation. She said that during her team’s August 26 match against Brigham Young University, fans inside the BYU arena in Provo, Utah inundated her with racist abuse and threats.

After the match, 19-year-old Richardson told her godmother, Lesa Pamplin, about the incident. Pamplin is a criminal defense attorney running for a county judgeship in Texas, and was not at the game—but the next day, she published a tweet that rocketed the story to national attention: “My Goddaughter is the only black starter for Dukes [sic] volleyball team. While playing yesterday, she was called a [n-word] every time she served. She was threatened by a white male that told her to watch her back going to the team bus. A police officer had to be put by their bench.”

The tweet is no longer available, but it racked up 185,000 likes before it was archived. LeBron James himself responded: “you tell your Goddaughter to stand tall, be proud and continue to be BLACK!!! We are a brotherhood and sisterhood!  We have her back. This is not sports.”

Richardson’s story also spread via her father, Marvin Richardson, who is Deputy Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and who spoke with multiple outlets on behalf of his daughter. In an August 27 story about the incident in the New York Times that named him but not his daughter, he described an alarming, potentially violent scene. Despite an onslaught of slurs, he told the Times, his daughter thought the safest choice was “to keep her head down and continue playing.” He said that “as the crowd got more hyped and the epithets kept coming, she wanted to respond back but she told me she was afraid that, if she did, the raucous crowd could very well turn into a mob mentality.”

Rachel Richardson posted her own account to Twitter on August 28 (archived here), viscerally relaying the horror of the evening. She explained that “my fellow African American teammates and I were targeted and racially heckled throughout the entirety of the match. The slurs and comments grew into threats which caused us to feel unsafe.”

Things got so out of control, she said, that “my teammates and I had to struggle just to get through the rest of the game.” She accused BYU’s coaches and the game’s officials of having “failed to take the necessary steps to stop the unacceptable behavior and create a safe environment.” In an interview with ESPN that aired just a few days later, Richardson said that as the match progressed, the “atmosphere of the student section had changed,” growing “more extreme, more intense.”

The national response to this heinous allegation was swift and righteous. Utah’s governor, Spencer Cox, issued a statement on Twitter (now deleted) expressing his shock and disappointment. “I’m disgusted that this behavior is happening and deeply saddened if others didn’t step up to stop it,” he wrote. “As a society we have to do more to create an atmosphere where racist a**holes like this never feel comfortable attacking others.” For its part, BYU quickly acknowledged that something horrible had happened in the fieldhouse. The day after the game, it published an apologetic statement, saying that the fan deemed responsible for shouting the epithets—who was not a BYU student—had been banned from all university athletic venues.

Unsurprisingly, major media outlets were all over this story. The Times’ coverage set the tone, with the Washington Post and CNN and Sports Illustrated and NPR all publishing similar articles, alongside the predictable think pieces. The incident also had consequences for BYU sports more generally. The head coach of women’s basketball at the University of South Carolina canceled its home opener against BYU. A match between Duke and Rider University’s women’s volleyball teams—scheduled to be played at the BYU arena—was moved to a nearby high school gym in order to provide both teams “the safest atmosphere,” according to Duke’s Director of Athletics, Nina King.

For millions of people watching this story unfold, this was yet another example of the ineradicable stain of American racism, of just how little progress we’ve really made.

Except it didn’t happen.

To read the full article, CLICK HERE.