EDITORIAL: Griner controversy tone deaf

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Brittney Griner was at a disadvantage. As it is, being a Black lesbian woman in this world forces her to face unjust discrimination.

Griner doesnt deserve the scrutiny that she is receiving simply because she is a famous, Black lesbian basketball player that was brought home instead of an ex marine.

Her being in a foreign country facing criminal charges further shows the blatant scrutiny that Black and LGBTQIA2S+ people face.

Griner was charged with nine years in prison for drug smuggling and possession charges after she was allegedly found with hashish oil while traveling to Russia to play basketball for extra money in her offseason.

WNBA players regularly play in foreign countries in the offseason because they do not make enough money playing in the United States.

She was exchanged for Viktor Bout, an arms dealer from Russia nicknamed “the merchant of death” who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012. Many say the deal was unfair, but the issue stems deeper than just a trade.

Regardless of who she was traded for, Griner spent 11 months in a foreign prison for something that is legal in her home country. If she was a male celebrity, she would have been home much faster.

In July of 2019 Hip-Hop artist A$AP Rocky was charged with assault in Sweden. He was brought home in August of that year.

Griner is more than just a basketball player. She is a WNBA champion, an eight time all-star and a two-time olympic champion. In other words she is an icon for young American women who face the discrimination of being black and homosexual.

She’s one of the greatest American female athletes of this generation and should be treated like it.

If it were a male olympic champion, they would have been home in weeks.

Some Americans are angry at the fact that former marine Paul Whelan remains in a Russian institution while Griner is on her way home.

However, we tried to bring him home. The government was trying to reach a deal that exchanged Bout for Griner and Whelan. But they couldn’t get that done.

Whelan’s family understands that a deal that brought Paul home was not possible.

 “It’s clear that the U.S. government has no concessions that the Russian government will take for Paul Whelan,” Paul’s brother David Whelan told CNN. “And so Paul will remain a prisoner until that changes.” 

His family also understands that it was more than just a “trade.”

“It was a choice between bringing home one particular American — Brittney Griner — or bringing home none,” David added.

Bringing Whelan home was not possible. The United States government has been making attempts to bring him home ever since he was placed in prison.

“The Biden administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home,” said David. “And to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen.”

Many people compare this situation to when Ex United States marine Trevor Reed was exchanged for Konstantin Yaroshenko. Yaroshenko is a Russian pilot who was arrested for smuggling cocaine.

However this situation is not the same.

Russia was using Griner as a bargaining chip. They used her celebrity status as a negotiating tool. Although having plenty of support from the basketball community, other internationally known athletes could have spoken up. Tiger Woods, Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton: where were you? Maybe Russia wouldn’t have paid much attention to the millions of fans but it would have put pressure on the United States government to do something.

In Reed’s situation there was not as much media attention surrounding him making it so Russia could not use that as leverage.

Griner is home. A sure fire WNBA hall of famer, an icon for young women and children, an olympic champion and an American idol is home.

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One thought on “EDITORIAL: Griner controversy tone deaf

  1. We should not leave any Americans behind. But, in this case colonialism reigned supreme. Trading an American for a evil person who killed thousands of people in Africa and the Middle East. There would have been no trade if the Merchant of Death had killed Americans and Europeans. But, because he killed mostly Brown people, the trade was done. Ignoring all the evil he did to Africans and Middle Eastern people. All for one American. Now god save us – we let a very evil person out.

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