Brittney Griner from Keeton Gale on Shutterstock
Who is Brittney Griner?
Brittney Griner is a professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. She is Black, and she is queer. She is a political prisoner. Already, Griner has dealt with years of neglect and disrespect in the professional basketball world. Now, authorities are holding her in a foreign country without much help from the U.S.
Authorities detained Brittney Griner at an airport near Moscow, about a month ago, for the possession of vaping equipment and cannabis oil cartridges. She will see a courtroom on May 19th and is facing a 10-year prison sentence of which a number of those years could be spent at Russian labor camps.
As of now, US officials have said “raising up the basketball star’s name will make her situation in Russian prison worse.” They believe by keeping the situation lowkey, Griner will receive a more fair trial in May. However, this “keep it quiet” strategy is not working; there is no history of Russia treating US prisoners fairly in court. Now, Griner is facing the possibility of spending a significant amount of time at Russian labor camps. Russia should feel pressured and watched when Griner finally sees the inside of a courtroom.
She Needs Media Attention
Tim Bradley, a former FBI agent and current security consultant for IMG Global spoke to TIME.com about the possible outcomes of Griner’s situation. He says, “If I was her agent I would be on talk shows. I would want people to know about this and I would try to keep it alive. Sometimes it makes sense to stay below the radar but in this case, you’re competing with a war in Ukraine.” He further says, “The more pressure you can put on the Russian government on the world stage, the better.”
Minnesota Lynx forward Angel McCoughtry made the point that any WNBA player could have been detained. Lynx said, “people are saying she’s 6-foot-9, she’s different. It’s really not about that. It could have been any of us.” As the USA women’s basketball team trains, the missing presence of Griner is evident. Finally, players and the public are beginning to speak about the situation. However, it is disappointing to see sports press outlets and leaders stick to their heteronormative discomfort in raising the name of a Black queer woman with tattoos and an extraordinarily brave wife.
Too many political prisoners die when their names are swallowed in our throats instead of shouted to the heavens. Let’s not make the same mistake with Brittney Griner. It is time for the petitions, the press conferences, and the hashtags.
Lastly, there is a petition you can sign on change.org.
Some information about the war in Ukraine can be found in “What is Happening in Ukraine?” on GirlSpring.