Letter: “What is equally admirable is that many of you are making your voices heard off the court as well. There are countless examples of you engaging in protests in your own communities and working to effect positive change.”
Hundreds of prominent Black women have written a “love letter” to WNBA players to stand in solidarity with them for using their voices on and off the courts to fight against social injustice.
Some of the signatories include: Dr. Johnetta B. Cole, Cora Master Barry, Donna Brazile, Star Jones, Hazel Dukes, Jotaka Eaddy, Judith Brown Dianis, Bishop Leah Daughtry, Angela Rye, Renee Brown, Tamika Mallory, April Reign & hundreds of others. The letter is below:
Our Dear Sisters in the WNBA,
As a group of inter-generational Black women who have organized around the affirmation #winwithblackwomen, we stand in solidarity with each of you. While we respect and admire your exceptional athletic prowess, in this letter we lift up the stance you continue to take in the on-going struggle for justice and equality in our nation.
That struggle, dating back 401 years to when our African ancestors were first enslaved, has yet to be won. And in recent months since the brutal killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, followed by more and more senseless killings of Black people, we are with you in saying: Enough is enough!
And we are with you in saying that White Americans who are driven by systemic racism must get their knees off of the necks of Black people.
Dear Sisters, we are also with you in decrying the divisive rhetoric that is coming from the highest offices in our land, including the racist and misogynist language being used about Black women, including Vice President candidate Senator Kamala Harris. As our shero Shirley Chisholm once said: “The emotional, sexual and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.”
And as Black women, we continue to struggle with the double jeopardy that comes from being Black and women. Indeed, the struggle continues!
As the late Congressman John Lewis said: “Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year; it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” We recognize that is what you have been doing: getting in good trouble. For example, when you wore those 2016 T-shirts that said: “Change Starts with Us: Justice & Accountability. “And since then, your “good trouble” has grown into a unified and consistent voice in the call for equality and justice in our country.
What is equally admirable is that many of you are making your voices heard off the court as well. There are countless examples of you engaging in protests in your own communities and working to effect positive change. Indeed, you have set an example for other sports leagues of what can happen when players are united and committed to affect social change. As an Ethiopian proverb states, “When spiders unite, they can tie up a lion.”
You have heard the calls from some in our nation that say you should “leave politics out of sports,” as Laura Ingraham disrespectfully said to LeBron James: “shut up and dribble.” However, as you know, and in the words of the well-known Black lesbian writer and activist Audre Lorde: “Your silence will not protect you.”
Protests by Black athletes in our country certainly did not begin with Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during performances of the National anthem. And the world needs to remember that a few weeks after he took a knee, center Kelsey Bone was the first of multiple WNBA players who joined him in protest.
History and herstory are filled with stories of Black women and men who, as athletes protest racial injustice and speak truth to power. The names of the Black men athletes are well known. But we insist on lifting up just a few of the names of sister-athletes who have also protested racial and gender inequality in America: Wilma Rudolph, Serena and Venus Williams, Earlene Brown, Erosenna Robinson, and Wyomia Tyus.
How well we remember that in 2016, after the police murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, it was WNBA players who lead the way by wearing Black Lives Matter shirts and holding media blackouts where you refused to talk about basketball and would only talk about police violence.
You continue to add your voices to the national call for an end to racial injustice and you turn a deaf ear to those who accuse you of being disruptive to the WNBA. For indeed, you agree with our sister Alicia Garza, one of the cofounders of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Every successful social movement in this country’s history has used disruption as a strategy to fight for social change. Whether it was the Boston Tea Party or the sit-ins at lunch counters throughout the South, no change has been won without disruptive action.”
We bring closure to this letter in the same spirit in which we opened it, and that is by stating unequivocally that we stand in solidarity with you!