History is unfolding before our eyes in a multitude of ways. The situation in Eastern Europe is heart-wrenching to watch as we see innocent people pushed out of their homes to flee the chaos and destruction. The world is rallying around Ukraine, and everyone is trying to prevent World War 3 from erupting across Europe. However, the stories hiding behind the media curtain are continuing to be silenced to the detriment of entire communities.
Brittney Griner, the WNBA superstar has been incarcerated in Russia since February for “drug-related charges." Griner was found to be in possession of hashish oil contained in vape cartridges while playing international basketball. The Russian Federation considered this a crime and immediately had her arrested. She has been detained ever since and it is assumed that she is being held hostage as a diplomatic bargaining chip to combat Western sanctions since the beginning of the Ukraine invasion. Isn’t it interesting how she is being portrayed in the news? Hashish oil, or a form of THC, that is legal in many western states, is touted as “drug related charges” – you know, sounding like she’s a major drug lord. Hmmm..wonder why?
So why aren’t we hearing about it? We all understand that the horrors being experienced in Ukraine right now are taking the forefront of media coverage, but Brittney’s story seems to have fallen off the map completely. This is a Black American WNBA superstar who is being held in unimaginable conditions by the superpower attempting to begin the third world war in hopes of Eastern European domination.
The six-foot-nine Olympic Gold Medalist is by all measures an American treasure — yet she has been forgotten by the country she so proudly has represented on a global stage. Her offense carries a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison. This is a beautiful, powerful, and iconic Black LGBTQ+ woman facing the legal system of one of the most racist, homophobic, and dangerous countries in the world, and her story is still silenced.
Griner is being held as a hostage by the Russian Federation to stick it to Joe Biden for sanctions following Putin’s actions. Think about that. Griner is a hostage and a diplomatic pawn in this proverbial game of chess and that is all her worth has been diminished to despite her vast accomplishments, activism, and pride in her country. All for hashish oil commonly used to treat anxiety and depression — no doubt something an international superstar could experience given the pressure. Are they making her a political prisoner? Because they know the value, or lack thereof, placed on the lives of Black women?
While it has been covered at a bare minimum by sports-centered media outlets, you can’t help but wonder — if this were an NBA star, would the story be receiving the same treatment?
Yes, we know that the treatment between men and women — especially on a global stage is anything but equal, but yet again, Black women continue to be the most disrespected and disregarded community, both home and abroad. If this were Sue Bird, for example, another prominent WNBA player of Russian-Jewish descent, what do you think would happen? For one, would she even be in the same predicament? How would the media respond? How would our nation’s leaders respond? How would the world respond based on her racial background? Odds are there would be outrage, yet for Griner, deafening silence.
As crushing as it is — are we surprised? Black women are constantly silenced in the media, and the stories of racially-driven ridicule and violence fall on deaf ears. The United States is supposed to be one of the world’s most progressive and accepting nations, and in many regards, it is. In many countries across the world members of the LGBTQ+ community fear for their lives, bi-racial marriages are forbidden, and women’s worth is diminished to men’s fantasies and procreation. However, when it comes to Black women, the United States falls short by every standard. Why is that? Why Black women specifically?
When you look at the news today, what do you see? IF you see a Black woman, what is the sentiment of the coverage. We see it every day with coverage of Kamala Harris; “she’s dramatic, she’s unqualified, she’s doing x, y, or z to harm the country”. How often is the sentiment positive? How often is the sentiment showing Black women as heroes? How often are they shown as victims? And how often is the coverage perpetuating stereotypes that further divide this nation and harm, Black women, everywhere?
The United States should be blowing this story up to take a stand for this American Olympian and amazing Black woman who has given back to her community in more ways than one. This world-class athlete should feel the warmth and support from her country, yet she sits behind bars in fear for her future and even her life, betrayed by the mainstream media and American leaders.
Griner needs the power of the nation she so proudly represents to advocate for her freedom. That starts with the media. We are all well aware that the media controls social issues in this nation and beyond. This week, on my show, HeartBeat Radio and Podcast, we will be covering this story. Yet, in a nation that proves time and time again that the media is racist, misogynistic, and harmful to Black women — how can any Black woman feel safe and supported when issues arise?