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How Black women served a critical role in securing Britney Griner’s launch 

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Jotaka Eaddy was sitting at her dwelling in Washington D.C. on Thursday morning when she received a textual content message from a buddy: Brittney Grinder was coming dwelling, it mentioned.  

Eaddy paused, then reread the message as a flood of feelings — aid, pleasure, satisfaction— ran via her.

The founding father of the Win With Black Women collective, Eaddy had been amongst hundreds of women throughout the nation battling to convey Griner, a heart for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and an Olympic gold medalist, dwelling after she was detained in Russia for bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil into the nation. 

Eaddy and members of Win With Black Women wrote the Biden Administration in July, demanding extra be carried out to safe Griner’s freedom.

“When you see a fellow American and when you see a fellow sister in such intolerable, unfair conditions, you’re compelled to act and you’re compelled to do something and say something and keep saying something until she’s home,” Eaddy informed The Hill.

Since Griner’s detainment 294 days in the past, Black women have been on the forefront of seeing the WNBA star’s launch and holding the stress on the administration.  

The marketing campaign We Are BG was organized, and greater than 300,000 individuals signed a petition urging the federal government to create a deal to convey Griner dwelling.  

“It was painful for so many, particularly Black women, to see another Black woman be in those harsh conditions, to just see the pain in her face,” mentioned Eaddy. “It was hard to watch. It’s hard to hear about the inhumane conditions that she was forced to be in.” 

Eaddy mentioned Black women performed a critical role in securing Griner’s launch.  

Not solely have been Black women brave and constant in talking reality to energy, she mentioned, however a lot of the organizing was carried out by a Black girl: Griner’s spouse, Cherelle.  

Members of the WNBA like government director Terri Jackson and former star Dawn Staley, a basketball Hall of Famer and three-time Olympic gold medalist who’s now the top coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, additionally spoke out constantly on Griner’s imprisonment. Griner’s personal staff additionally stood in solidarity after she was sentenced to 9 years in jail in August.

Vice President Harris was additionally a main participant in securing Griner’s launch. 

“It took Black women sending a strong message to the world that we had to do everything that we could possibly do to get Brittney home,” mentioned Eaddy. “It took the work and the voices of so many that have leveraged their platforms, their individual power, to help join the corps of so many Americans, especially Black women, to say that we must bring Brittney home and we will not stop saying her name, we will not stop standing in solidarity, we will not stop pushing until she’s safely home.” 

Black women throughout the nation may determine with Griner’s story, mentioned LaTosha Brown, group activist and co-founder of Black Voters Matter.  

“Part of the reason why I think myself and so many others wanted to continue to uplift her name and this issue is because I know it is very, very easy for America to forget about Black women or to not fight for us,” mentioned Brown.  

“Part of that is why you saw Black women come together and I think it was very intentional to affirm this notion of ‘We Are BG.’ We’re feeling this and we’re collectively seeing her as a part of us. And so when she’s not okay, we’re not okay.” 

Racial and gender points hung over the the story of Griner, whose detention in Russia was extensively seen as politically motivated given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

Some argued that if males and women athletes have been paid the identical, Griner wouldn’t have been pressured to affix a Russian staff in the offseason and there by no means would have been a risk of her arrest. 

Others mentioned if Griner weren’t Black or lesbian, extra would have been carried out sooner to safe her launch.  

“It reminded me of the African American experience,” mentioned Brown. “How you’ve just been snatched from your environment and your comfort … [Griner] was taken and held captive against her will and there was nothing she could do about it.”

Brown mentioned she was moved to tears when she heard Thursday’s announcement. She mirrored on photographs and movies of Griner in Russian courtrooms, the terrified look on her face and tales of the situations Griner confronted in the penal colony. 

“We kept getting reports that even because of her height, because of her body, that the cell that she was in was extremely cramped and not really big enough,” mentioned Brown. “We also know that she was in a prison that was created to intentionally inflict long-term consequences.”

In a assertion, Marcela Howell, president and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, mentioned Griner ought to have been dwelling all alongside.  

“As a Black, queer, American woman, Brittney Griner was at grave risk in a country known for its human rights violations, especially at this time when Russia is ramping up its attacks on LGBTQ people,” mentioned Howell. 

“Brittney Griner is free, but others still languish in Russian prisons,” Howell added. “Today, we celebrate Griner’s release — tomorrow we join advocates around the world in demanding that Russia stop its human rights abuses once and for all.” 

Eaddy mentioned that although she is celebrating Griner’s launch at the moment, she too is pondering of all these nonetheless detained — together with Paul Whelan, a high-profile American who was not a part of what seemed to be a prisoner swap that noticed the U.S. launch infamous arms vendor Victor Bout.

She says she is going to proceed to hope and advocate for “the countless other Americans wrongfully detained.”

Brown added that if she may say something to Griner at the moment, it could be to remind her she is in the hearts of tens of millions. 

“I would say to her, sister, we love you. Be free. Enjoy your time. Enjoy this moment with your family and just be free,” mentioned Brown. 

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