WNBA Players: Platform and Power
Have you ever been the first to advocate for issues of primary concern to others even when those issues fail to make your top ten? No one would know it though because your passion for justice moved both you and the crowd. Have you ever taken a step back to notice who stood along side of you when matters of your heart needed a louder voice? Who is there—just those in your community or are your neighbors joining the party?
As I write this, I am inspired by what a number of teams and players in the WNBA are doing to show support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Unfortunately, many continue to assert that this non-violence stance is in opposition to the work of good, honorable, and honest law enforcement. Apples and Oranges are not the same.
Admittedly, the number of WNBA games I have watched…ever… can be counted [probably] on one hand. When I discovered, however, that these players and teams are being fined as a result of wearing black warmup shirts, I became conflicted between wanting to support these women by watching their games but not wanting to support the institution of which they work. See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2016/07/22/wnba-players-refuse-to-talk-basketball-in-protest-of-fines-for-black-warmup-shirts/ What’s a woman to do?
When many think of the Black Lives Matter Movement, they think of police brutality against Black men. Interestingly isn’t it…that loud sound of crickets coming from the NBA and the NFL. [No pressure though. “She’s got now.”] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8E_zMLCRNg
Again, many think of Black males when they think of police brutality because they do not know the stories of women like Miriam Carey, Shareese Francis, Shantel Davies, Rekia Boyd, Breaion King, the pool party in McKinney [Texas], and Sandra Bland—stories of Black women that many say are victims too of the same. These storylines fail to fit the familiar narrative and quickly fade into the night. Could it be that the WNBA players wearing those black warmups know about and identify with these women issues because they are women? Could it be that they are advocating for themselves in an it-could-be-me (or my daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, or one day granddaughter) sort-of way? Yes, they could be supporting their Brothers, but have you thought that maybe they are supporting their Sisters too—first and foremost? Lean In for Women and Equality, does anyone remember that? Why should these women be penalized for being a voice to a very real issue affecting their community? Just as the WNBA’s organization supports Breast Cancer Awareness and Pride, where is the support for your players here? After all, these college-educated players—who are already underpaid and in many ways make tremendous sacrifices to invest in building your brand—are commended for going into the community to give back, isn’t that what this is???
I applaud these women for using their platform for something much bigger than themselves. I hope they are an example to others, in other industries. They are certainly an example to me. Still, I am left to wonder how to support them minus their employer. Now, that’s power!