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Author: Isabel Wade 

Posted October 7th, 2020

WNBA For Equality

       While Sue Bird had a historic night during the first game of the WNBA finals, setting the record for assists in a game with sixteen, she might say that her biggest assist was wearing Breonna Taylor’s name on the back of her jersey.

In its most important hour, the WNBA has continued to push the envelope when voicing their opinions and standing up against injustice. Many would think that it was Colin Kapernick who tipped the first domino, but the WNBA has been historically known for speaking out against social injustices that plague our country. All of the players have come together as one to speak out and voice their opinions and concerns about the times that we are facing.

 

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

     - Martin Luther King Jr. 

 

      On August 28, the Connecticut Sun kneeled, holding pieces of paper that each had a word of the MLK quote before their game. They were also seen wearing t-shirts reading, “Black Lives Matter.” Similarly, the Las Vegas Aces also wore shirts that lined up to say “Jacob Blake,” a black man who was victim to police brutality and was shot seven times in the back. This is not the first or the last time the WNBA players have kneeled during the national anthem or worn t-shirts to express their opinions on matters of racism in America. With the deaths of Ahmaud Abery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many more black lives gone too soon at the hands of police brutality, the WNBA players are not only supporting the Black Lives Matter movement on the court but away from the cameras as well. On July 6, 2020, the WNBA and WNBPA (Women's National Basketball Players Association) announced The Justice Movement, which would consist of a social justice counsel. This counsel is to speak out about race, LGBTQ+ rights, voting, and gun control. Layshia Clarendon, a guard for the New York Liberty and member of the WNBA social justice council, spoke out about the WNBA’s purpose for this season and how the Black Lives Matter movement has affected them. In the MSNBC interview, she says, “[When talking about Breonna Taylor] … We have a duty to use the platform and our voices to fight for something better because we believe in what our country could become.” 

      While the focus has been on the Black Lives Matter movement mostly this year and season, the WNBA is also shedding light on the election and the right to vote. With the election coming this November, the WNBA players have been using their platform to explain to the people why voting, and in this election specifically, is so important. “Hoopers Vote” is an initiative that brings together all members of the basketball community, from WNBA to NBA, to even the staff. It allows them to create a space where they can share the necessity of voting in this election, and how people can register to vote, either by mail-in ballot or in person.

      They are strong advocates for the LGBTQ+ community, which has been important for the organization since its early days. In 2014, the WNBA became the first pro sports organization to create a formal pride campaign called “WNBA Pride.” This is to preach diversity and inclusion, Britney Griner, Sue Bird, and Layshia Clarendon being at the head of this message. They often connect gender and sexual equality, mentioning how one cannot be achieved without the other. To build off of this, the WNBA has spoken out many times on the stark contrast of pay grade between the NBA and WNBA, and how the women get paid significantly less than the men. Women throughout history, and not just in sports organizations, have had to deal with the pay difference between men and women, but the WNBA has been particularly vocal about their opinions on why the gap should be smaller, or rather,  nonexistent. 

        Overall, the WNBA has gotten the platform that they needed this year to openly express their opinions on social injustice and how we can come together as a community to make a change in our country. 

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