Brittney Griner: Silence Speaks Volumes


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Brittney Griner, a WNBA player is detained in Russia until May 19, 2022.

Melody Rivera, Editor-In-Chief

Brittney Griner, an Olympic U.S. gold medalist and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player, has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17, 2022, due to claims made by The Russian Federal Customs Service that she brought cannabis oil and vape cartridges with her to an airport in Moscow. 

Griner is scheduled to be released on May 19, 2022, according to The Russian News Agency TASS. 

Ned Price, the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said a government official was able to check on Griner on March 22, 2022, after failed attempts to contact her since her detainment in February. 

“Our official found Brittney Griner to be in good condition, and we will continue to do everything we can to see to it that she is treated fairly throughout this ordeal,” Price said.

Although it’s great to hear that Griner remains unharmed, I don’t think enough is being done to ensure her safety as of now and when she possibly returns in May. Many targets can be placed on Griner’s back simply because of who she is. 

For starters, Griner is American. Since the U.S. and Russia aren’t getting along, Russia can easily take advantage of her arrest to provoke America to attack them and possibly start another war. 

Secondly, Griner is a black woman, and Russia has been known to show racist tendencies and prejudice against black people. Russian journalist, Amalia Zatari, documented these issues in her article titled, “Racism in Russia: Stories of Prejudice, ” from bullying in schools to being prevented from entering certain areas.” 

Lastly, Griner is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and is trapped in a homophobic country. Griner officially came out as a lesbian in a 2013 interview conducted by Sports Illustrated. Within that same year, Russian President Vladimir Putin passed an anti-LGBTQ+ law that prohibited residents from showing any support for the community. This led to many LBGTQ+ activists and allies being arrested and members of the community enduring cruel punishment and, in some instances, being killed for being who they are.

Many politicians in America have made public statements to show their support for Griner.

“Whenever an American is detained anywhere in the world, we, of course, stand ready to provide every possible assistance, and that includes in Russia,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

The WNBPA also posted a statement on their Twitter account on March 5, 2022, which expressed concern for Griner and offered hope that she would have a safe return.

“We are aware of the situation in Russia concerning one of our members, Brittney Griner. Our utmost concern is BG’s safety and well-being,” they wrote. “On behalf of The 144, we send our love and support. We will continue to closely monitor and look forward to her return to the U.S.”

American politicians and social media have been nearly silent regarding Griner’s case, which has frustrated those aware of the circumstance.

“Why isn’t the Brittney Griner story everywhere? I swear we don’t do right by the WNBA,” Twitter user @JSpenceTheKing wrote. 

I completely understand how difficult it must be to have any form of contact with Russia because of visible tension between them and the U.S. and the ongoing Ukraine conflict. I’m also aware that the reasoning behind this silence is due to the fear that anything major said publicly can be used against Griner and her case by Russia. 

I have many mixed feelings about this situation because I believe the correct thing to do is for the country to handle this most peacefully and civilly possible. However, another side of me can’t help but feel angry because I expect America to try harder to get Griner out of Russia. Realistically, there’s not much that can be done now. 

Although there are many obstacles in Griner’s path back home, the country needs to create as many alternate plans as possible to prepare for the worst-case scenario. America shouldn’t leave any room to fail Griner because some can argue that the war in Ukraine is far worse.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said best, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”