“What started as a stance from several WNBA teams and the Milwaukee Bucks now has reached across sports, and leaves the very future of the NBA season in balance.”
"This is not a strike. This is not a boycott. This is affirmatively a day of reflection. Do not remain idle. Do something today…" --Nneka Ogwumike, WNBA Players Association President (8-27-20)
Today, the African American Policy Forum stands in solidarity with players from the WNBA and other professional sports on this day of reflection for Black lives. Athletes should not be expected to distract and entertain the nation while remaining silent about the routine ways in which Black people are vulnerable to racist violence, both by police and armed racists who are empowered to kill protesters. We share their outrage that Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey, who shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back as he opened the door of his car, while his young children looked on, was empowered to enact such brutality. Blake’s tragic shooting was later followed by the violent actions of alleged vigilante shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white male who shot three protestors, killing two, during protests over Blake’s shooting. Unlike so many Black people innocently killed because police claimed they were armed, Rittenhouse allegedly opened fire on protesters, and was allowed by police to simply walk away.
The past days have painfully rehearsed the cyclical tyranny of white supremacy that has characterized Black life since 1619. As Executive Director Kimberle Crenshaw laments, “they kill us and then they kill us when we protest the fact that they kill us.” State-sanctioned violence and extra-judicial violence have been the twin forces of domestic terrorism in this country. The events of the last week only underscore how deeply these patterns of anti-Black racism are rooted in American soil.
As we hope for Blake’s recovery and demand justice for his family, we join his name with the names of other African Americans, those who have not survived encounters with police, and whose families must deal with the loss of this loss because their names are not known to us. We want to say the name of Korryn Gaines, who should have celebrated her 28th birthday this past Monday. But she was killed August 1, 2016 by Baltimore County Police Officer Royce Ruby who fatally shot Korryn in the back - in her own home - over a traffic dispute. We want to lift up the name of India Kager, a mother and a Navy vet who was lost five years ago next week, who died protecting her 4-month old son when a SWAT team opened fire on her car. And there are so many others. In this time of grief and of anger, and in this moment of our refusal to continue to accept the precarity of Black lives, we continue to #SayHerName remembering that it is all Black lives--women, girls, and femmes--that matter.
Since 2014, our #SayHerName campaign has broken the silence by bringing awareness to the often invisible names and stories of Black women who have been victimized by racist police violence, and by providing support to their families demanding justice. We are proud of our partnership with the players of WNBA who have fiercely uplifted our #SayHerName Campaign and who have played a foundational role in leading the nation forward in this critical time. We honor them and their courage as this moment becomes a movement.
Join us in our efforts to advance a gender-inclusive narrative in the movement to elevate the value and sanctity of all Black life.
To support the African American Policy Forum in fighting for the families of Black women lost to police violence, go to aapf.org and support the #SayHerName campaign.