When the WNBA start of its 2020 season last July more than a dozen players decides not to participate of participation. While concerns about health and safety amid the coronavirus pandemic have put some athletes out, others have struggled over how to balance the demands of a new season while still fighting for racial justice and equality.
One of the players was Washington Mystics star Natasha Cloud, who decided to skip last year’s season to focus on social justice reform. Although Cloud has long used her platform to raise awareness about important community issues, including speaks out against violence in the DC community in 2019, the 29-year-old says she, like the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor asked for another level of activism that requires her to take a breather.
“For me personally, I knew I could not be 100% on the track because of my heart,” she tells OilGasJobz Make It. “My heart was at the forefront with social reform and with my community.”
Like Cloud, several of her WNBA counterparts, including those who played in the ‘wubble’ last season, are leading the way in raising issues of social justice. Throughout the season, players across the league wore special uniforms on display. Breonna Taylor’s name in an attempt to raise awareness of the death of the 26-year-old black medical worker who was fatally shot in her home in March 2020 by Louisville police officers. In addition, players wore shirts with ‘Black Lives’ on them during warm-ups. Matter “at the front and” Say her name “at the back, thus raising awareness at the Say her name social campaign highlighting ongoing acts of police brutality and racial violence against black women and girls.
As anti-Asian violence continues to escalate, many WNBA players and organizations have used their platforms to support the AAPI community (AAPI) in Asia.
While the league is poised for the 25th season, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert says through the Social Justice Council they will continue to focus on raising awareness of important community issues that several players in the league started last year.
“Our efforts to do social justice are not one-off,” Engelbert said The Washington Post.
The mission of the council, according to the league website, is to create space for ongoing discussions on race, suffrage, advocacy for LGBTQ +, gun reform and other important social issues. Advisers to the board include prominent activists and leaders such as Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Carolyn DeWitt, CEO of Rock the Vote, and Beverly Bond, founder and CEO of Black Girls Rock.
“There are, of course, many issues we focus on, but at the root of everything we do, we fight for equality and justice for all women, regardless of race, religion, orientation, etc.,” said Breanna Stewart, MVP of the 2020 championship-winning Seattle Storm and a leader in the board. “We want to continue to use our platforms as more than just basketball players, but as those who have a tremendous impact and reach out to our respective communities.”
As a black, non-binary player in the league, New York Liberty Star Layshia Clarendon says it’s very important to use the WNBA platform to voice social justice issues.
“I do not think there is a way to stay out of politics individually or out of social justice because my existence is really political and the country we live in has made it political,” said Clarendon, who also Social Justice lei. Advice, say. “I really just want to be the show I did not have when I was younger. I did not see a non-binary person playing in the WNBA who had an operation and on the whole just as complete and free and beautiful could not live. exist … And I really just want to leave this league better than I found it. ‘
Cloud, who last season took away her time to organize peaceful marches in Washington, DC and her hometown of Pennsylvania, says she is proud of what her WNBA counterparts achieved when she played in the league.
In Atlanta, players were not just in the Atlanta Dream team push back against Georgia owner and former senator Kelly Loeffler, who spoke out against the Black Lives Matter movement, but they also played a critical role in encouraging people to vote in the 2020 Senate by-elections, which Loeffler loses to Democratic opponent Raphael G. Warnock.
In February, after months of tension with players in the team, Loeffler sell her interest in the Atlanta Dream to a three-person investor group that included former Dream player Renee Montgomery, who made Montgomery the first former WNBA player to become an owner and executive in the league.
“Renee is just paving the way for all of us,” said Cloud, who plans to return to the Mystics for the 2021 season. “She breaks down the barriers that have been put in place for women and especially for black women, so it’s just phenomenal to see.”
Looking at the impact of the WNBA over the past year, including social justice and pioneering work collective bargaining agreement Phoenix Mercury star Skylar Diggins says she hopes other women inside and outside the league will be inspired to change themselves, regardless of the critics they say: “like sports“or”keep quiet and dribble. “
“Never, never, never just ‘keep quiet and work, or dribble, etc.’, ‘she says.
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