Brittney Griner remains to be detained in Russia. The WNBA star has now been imprisoned for 205 lengthy days.
In August, Griner was discovered responsible of drug possession and smuggling for touring with lower than a gram of hashish oil, and sentenced to 9 years in a Russian penal colony. During her trial, legal professionals argued that she had a medical notice for the hashish oil, however it did no good. Ironically, that is the identical nation that discovered a loophole in the authorized system to permit followers attending the 2018 FIFA World Cup to carry hashish and—verify this—even cocaine and heroin into the nation, in the event that they offered the correct paperwork.
But Griner’s issues are usually not simply in Russia. I’ve been shocked by Americans’ reactions to Griner’s imprisonment. It is not only that so many Americans aren’t outraged sufficient. It’s that so many—particularly in the right-wing media—are literally celebrating her detainment. They try to show Griner into an enemy and a prison, in a method that reveals a long-standing animosity in direction of those that are Black and athletic and who use their platform to talk out in opposition to injustice in America.
“On the vibrant facet, B Griner will not must endure our National Anthem for 9 entire years! What a win for her!” the Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren tweeted to her 2 million followers after Griner’s sentence was introduced. It was a reference to Griner’s refusal to stroll onto the courtroom when the anthem was performed—a protest in opposition to the killing of Breonna Taylor by Louisville cops in 2020. Instead of reflecting on what her fellow American citizen must endure in a Russian penal colony for expenses Lahren described herself as “extreme, overblown, and overkill,” Lahren took the alternative to taunt and disgrace Griner for exercising her First Amendment rights.
Griner has a historical past of utilizing her platform to talk on points affecting individuals of coloration. After she informed Andscape that “nothing is being accomplished” about Taylor’s loss of life, she began sporting Taylor’s identify on the again of her jersey as a tribute. After George Floyd was killed by a police officer two months after Taylor’s loss of life, Griner once more refused to take the courtroom whereas the anthem performed.
“We shouldn’t play the nationwide anthem throughout our season,” she informed a reporter The Arizona Republic. “I believe we must always take that a lot of a stand. I do not imply that in any disrespect to our nation.” She defined that her father had fought in Vietnam and served as a regulation enforcement officer for 30 years. “I wished to be a cop earlier than basketball,” she mentioned. “I do have satisfaction for my nation.”
But this wasn’t sufficient for some individuals. “Perhaps Griner’s time in Russian jail will encourage a newfound gratitude for our authorities, our nationwide anthem, and our Anglo-American heritage, which offer her the freedoms she now not enjoys,” Micah Veillon, then an editorial intern, wrote for The American Conservative.
Veillon used the phrase our to mark Griner as an outsider who must learn to be extra ethical, patriotic—and white. This is about an athlete who has represented his nation on the Olympic stage not as soon as however twice, in Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo, bringing residence two gold medals.
Former President Donald Trump additionally acquired in on the Griner-bashing. In an look on The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, he known as her a “probably spoiled individual … loaded up with medication.” He mentioned that it might not be price it for the State Department to attempt to launch a Russian prisoner in alternate for her freedom.
This hostility isn’t a brand new phenomenon. Black athletes who bridge sports activities and social justice have all the time discovered themselves focused by right-wing politicians and pundits for voicing dissatisfaction with the established order. I’m reminded of the Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s 2018 diatribe in opposition to LeBron James for publicly criticizing Trump. Ingraham mentioned that James ought to preserve politics out of sports activities and “shut up and dribble.”
Because Griner did not shut up and dribble, she faces the identical backlash. Lahren, Veillon, and others cannot outright assault Griner for her race, so that they as an alternative forged her as unpatriotic.
To them, Griner is ungrateful and undeserving of freedom and compassion; she is not American sufficient to be saved. This is the politics of dehumanization. A headline in The American Conservative says all of it: “Is Brittney Griner Worth It?”
Of course she’s price it. Griner is a human being who deserves to be in the loving arms of his spouse and to return to what she loves: to that sheer gracefulness that turns a courtroom and a ball right into a marvel on this world. But Griner doesn’t must be magical or spectacular to be handled with respect. She can criticize her nation and belong again on American soil.