Why We’re Dedicating the 2020 WNBA Season to #SayHerName

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After Atlanta Dream co-owner Sen. Kelly Loeffler derided the WNBA for dedicating its season to social justice, gamers confirmed up on recreation day carrying t-shirts endorsing her opponent on this November’s particular election.

Sen. Loeffler, a Republican from Georgia and an outspoken critic of the Black Lives Matter motion, slammed the t-shirt marketing campaign, claiming to be a goal of “uncontrolled cancel tradition.” However Dream ahead Elizabeth Williams, 27, says their efforts aren’t a trigger celebre. however a unified motion to push for actionable change. Beneath, Williams takes ELLE.com inside her crew’s combat to finish systemic oppression on and off the court docket—it doesn’t matter what administration has to say.

A lot of the dialog about Black Lives Matter facilities round Black males. Sadly, loads of the time, tales about Black girls who’ve died from police violence by no means get heard or are forgotten over time. That is why we felt it was so vital to dedicate our 2020 WNBA season to the #SayHerName marketing campaign.

[Las Vegas Aces forward] Angel McCoughtry got here up with the concept to place Breonna Taylor’s title on the again of our jerseys. We coordinated with Nike and jumped on a name with Breonna’s mom, who gave us her blessing.

A collective social justice motion of this magnitude was unprecedented—however not everybody was pleased in regards to the trigger. I play for the Atlanta Dream and one in all our crew’s co-owners, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, wrote a letter to the WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert calling Black Lives Matter “completely misaligned with the values and objectives of the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream.” In it, she instructed the WNBA as a substitute put American flags on jerseys to unify “rallying level for the American individuals.”

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That was robust to learn. As a league made up of 80 p.c black girls, there are such a lot of elements of Breonna’s story that resonate with us. If Sen. Loeffler would not wish to help what her gamers imagine in, that is on her. If she desires to separate herself from the league, that is on her. However she should not attempt to cease us from pursuing justice.

A number of of my fellow Dream gamers and I launched a collective name to motion in response to Sen. Loeffler’s letter: “It’s not excessive to demand change after centuries of inequality. This isn’t a political assertion. It is a assertion of humanity.”

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Many people additionally got here out in help of Dr. Raphael Warnock, who’s working towards Sen. Loeffler in a particular election this November. After a telephone name with him, we might see how passionate he was about combating voter suppression and advocating for individuals who are marginalized. It felt like an ideal storm. His beliefs completely aligned with this season’s WNBA mission to make social justice a precedence.

The truth that Dr. Warnock was even keen to have a dialog with us in any respect was large. I have not heard something from Sen. Loeffler since this entire factor began. If she did attain out to me, I might inform her that the Black Lives Matter motion is supposed to unify. It is about being a voice for the unvoiced in all sides of life, together with, sure, sports activities. We cannot simply “shut up and dribble” anymore. We’ll use our platform to talk out, and we’ve no intention of stopping.

We cannot simply “shut up and dribble” anymore.

Some are calling for Sen. Loeffler to resign, however in terms of possession, that is on the WNBA. The league now has a novel alternative to double down on what range and inclusion seem like shifting ahead. I hope they do the fitting factor.

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I am glad WNBA gamers are leaders within the discourse on social justice in sports activities, focusing particularly on making efficient change on the polls. As we get nearer and nearer to elections, we are going to proceed to emphasise the significance of voting.

We’ll even be intentional about our work off the court docket. We’ll be strategic about what we oppose and the way we convey that. And we’ll unify our message, as a result of there’s at all times energy in numbers.

Workers Author
Rose is a Workers Author at ELLE.com masking tradition, information, and ladies’s points.

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