A group of WNBA players are refusing to drop the ball when it comes to using their voices to advocate for human rights and against police brutality.
Earlier this week players for the New York Liberty, Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury were fined for violating the leagues’ uniform policy when they wore black t-shirts bringing attention to the shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the Black Lives Matter movement and Dallas police officers that were killed by a sniper attack.
In their first games back since the fine, players for the Liberty and Fever, who happened to be playing against each other on Thursday, continued their protest by wearing ditching their team branded apparel and wearing black warm-ups. Only this time with no message, just an adidas logo. They also enacted a media black out where they refused to answer any basketball questions and only chose to discuss police shootings and to clarify the Black Lives Matter movement.
WNBA Player of the Month Tina Charles shared a very direct and articulate message via her Instagram page.
Today, I decided to not be silent in the wake of the @wnba fines against @nyliberty, @indianafever & @phoenixmercury due to our support in the #BlackLivesMatter movement . Seventy percent of the @wnba players are African-American women and as a league collectively impacted. My teammates and I will continue to use our platform and raise awareness for the #BlackLivesMatter movement until the @wnba gives its support as it does for Breast Cancer Awareness, Pride and other subject matters.
According to Deadspin:
When media members entered the Liberty locker room, the team addressed reporters as a unit and informed them that they would not be answering any basketball questions, but would be happy to talk about the issues they’ve been protesting. Charles, Tanisha Wright, and Swin Cash spoke on behalf of the team, and presented a clear-eyed explanation of their actions.
“We feel like America has a problem with the police brutality that’s going on with black lives around here, and we just want to use our voices and use our platform to advocate for that,” said Wright. “Just because someone says ‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn’t mean that other lives don’t matter. People put out this imaginary ‘black lives only matter’ whenever people say, ‘Black lives matter.’ What we’re saying is, ‘Black lives matter, too.’ Period.”
“We really would appreciate if people stopped making our support of Black Lives Matter, an issue that is so critical in our society right now, as us not supporting the police,” added Cash. “There’s a lot of women in this room right now, in the WNBA, who have family members who are in law enforcement… People need to understand that it’s not mutually exclusive. You can support both things.”
These actions follow ones taken by players on the Minnesota Lynx team who wore similar t-shirts before a game earlier this month. In response, off-duty police officers who work security at the games abandoned their posts.