Brittney Griner needs to be home now.
Shocking developments continue to drop about Griner’s detainment in Russia. Following a letter to President Joe Biden on the 4th of July, and a phone call between the president and Vice President Kamala Harris with Griner’s wife on July 6, Griner pled guilty to a drug-smuggling charge—while maintaining it was never her intention to break Russian law—and now faces up to 10 years in a Russian prison. The danger is clear for Griner and everyone watching: America will not save us, especially if you are at the intersection of everything this country oppresses.
This was never about hash oil. When Griner was first detained on Feb. 17, many of us knew something else sinister was at play. Griner was not smuggling drugs across international lines, and we know this. Griner was held in customs after an agent found THC, the main component of marijuana in a vape cartridge for her personal use. Although illegal in Russia, a 10-year prison sentence is not only egregious, it’s inhumane.
The unfortunate truth is that Griner sits at the intersection of 3 identities: Black, queer and a woman. Three identities that have been constantly under attack from her own nation. Whether it’s the effects of Roe v. Wade, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, or the continued systems of oppression that harm Black folks daily, Griner’s identity deems her as less than valued in America. The U.S. government’s response to her detention is very clear on that. Although the U.S. has declared that they do agree that Griner is being “unlawfully detained,” that acknowledgment has not been seen as a dire need to rescue her—or the other American detainees Griner refers to in her letter to President Biden.
“I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don’t forget about me and the other American Detainees. Please do all you can to bring us home…”
As a nation that inhumanely and overwhelmingly imprisons Black people at the highest rate in the world, it’s unfathomable that they would fight to protect a Black woman from the same systems they help create. Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, also shared her thoughts on the United States’ poor response to the situation.
“It’s really, really difficult. This is not a situation where the rhetoric is matching the action…I do have to unfortunately push people to make sure that the things they’re telling me is also matching their actions, and so it’s been the hardest thing to balance because I can’t let up. It’s over 130 days and BG’s still not back.”
This rhetoric of caring while showing conflicting actions is also being fueled by the GOP. The GOP made a post that if Donald Trump were president, Griner would be home. However, their push to destroy queer rights, women’s rights and the rights of Black citizens indicate that they, too, would not take action to save Griner either.
Griner’s situation also touches on the pay inequity women face. A July 6 letter signed by prominent Black women addressed to the Biden administration, partly states their “concern that the rhetoric does not appear to align with the actions taken to date.”
The letter also reads in part: “Like many WNBA athletes, Brittney plays abroad during the WNBA off-season for the love of the sport, but also in exchange for substantially bigger contracts, which are not available to women’s basketball players in the U.S. Pay inequity has led to Brittney Griner’s wrongful detention in Russia, where she is being used as a political pawn.”
Brittney now sits in a Russian jail as a pawn. Russia recently went on public record and revealed what this situation is truly about. Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout aka “The Merchant of Death” was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison after being convicted of selling arms to Columbian rebels intending to kill Americans. Clearly, these two convictions are worlds apart, but have put the U.S. in an interesting situation. During Bout’s conviction, even the U.S. judge felt he was unfairly targeted in a sting operation and gave the minimum she could—which has many saying this situation is more eye for an eye of two figures being railroaded by injustice systems.
We can only hope that the United States will bring Griner back home. The saddest part about it all is, that the home she is coming back to is still anti-Black, anti-woman and anti-queer. This situation is also the reminder that America rejects the crisis they have created at home for so many who live at the intersections of Brittany Griner. Free Brittney Griner.