Seven-time WNBA All-Star Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia for "drug charges" on February 17, according to CNN.
Griner, 31, is a female, Black professional basketball player for The Phoenix Mercury WNBA team. Griner plays basketball during the offseason playing for the Russian Premier league team, UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Russian law enforcement arrested Griner at Sheremetyevo Airport after Russian Federal Customs claimed a "possible presence" of drug substances among an unidentified U.S. citizen.
"The customs inspection of the hand luggage being carried by the U.S. citizen confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance," according to Russian Federal Customs.
Griner could be facing up to twenty years in the Russian penal system based on the charges. She does not have a hearing until May 19, furthering her detainment.
Now, it has been one month and eleven days since the arrest of Griner.
The media behind this case has been minimal. Why?
A few reasons.
The first is Russia and Ukraine currently have the world's attention with the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Russian President, Vladamir Putin, is ruthless. According to the BBC, Putin's invasion's goal was to "demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine," resulting from Ukraine wanting to join NATO, the intergovernmental military alliance.
The second is the U.S. and the sports media world have been hesitant due to the severity of Griner's arrest. There is a chance that Griner could suffer consequences while Russia is at war with Ukraine due to her being a Black woman, a top-tier athlete, and a member of the LBGTQ+ community. A day after Griner's arrest, T.J. Quinn, an ESPN journalist, tweeted about the downplay and nonchalant political attitude the U.S. government maintained as she remained detained.
"As a 6-9 Black gay American woman, she's a powerful cultural symbol, and experts worry that Putin would use her as a cautionary tale of American decadence," Quinn tweeted, "This is why everyone around her is trying to keep it low key."
The third is I believe that because Griner is a woman, period. The order goes as follows: white man, white woman, Black man, Black woman. This order is accurate hierarchy in the media, speaking as a Black woman in media. There has been speculation that if Griner were a Black man, or man in general, playing for the NBA, with the exact charges, there would be an uproar in the sports world, and more organizations and government officials would be on the case to get her home.
I believe that Black women have to stand together to gain our respect. One our own should not be left to deal with such brutal consequences because white men want to make an "example" out of us.
Black women are the foundation of diverse and forward-moving communities. So the question for Brittney Griner's case is, does the downplay of Griner's arrest contribute to her protection, or should sports leagues and media be more vocal about the arrest?
As a Black woman needing the U.S. to be more progressive and respectful to us and other women, I stand with B.