WNBA Players Walk off the Court Before National Anthem for the Social Justice Initiative

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The WNBA season opened on Saturday, July 25, and proved to make this season about so much more than basketball.

WNBA teams New York Liberty and Seattle Storm retreated to their locker rooms in solidarity with Black Lives Matter right before the National Anthem played.

The Women’s National Basketball Player Association (WNBPA), along with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) have partnered to create a new and joined platform, the Social Justice Council, to amplify the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements. Players from both teams spoke of the Say Her Name campaign before the televised game and held a moment of “recognition” for 26 seconds, in memory of Breonna Taylor, who was 26 years old at the time of her tragic murder. “We thought that was very fitting to do a moment of recognition — not a moment of silence,” Layshia Clarendon of New York Liberty tells ESPN, “Because we’re not being silent by any means.”

 

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Unity.

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The players wanted to make a bold statement this season. As the WNBA league begins, players are using their platform by doing more than placing Breonna Taylor’s name on their jersey. They are seeking to honor her life, along with the rest of the Black Americans that have fallen victim to police brutality. Many athletes have kneeled during the National Anthem, but players of the first WNBA game instead returned to their respective locker rooms before “The Star-Spangled Banner” began playing. “Kneeling doesn’t even feel like enough to protest,” Clarendon said. “I don’t want to hear the anthem, I don’t want to stand out there. I don’t want to be anywhere near it, because it’s ridiculous that justice and freedom are just not offered to everybody equally.”

The Seattle Storm have created Force4Change, a campaign aimed at voter registration. Using their platform to create impacts beyond the court, Storm recognizes how voting oppression disproportionately affects Black Americans. Through educating audiences on the impact voting can have on society, the team will auction customized shoes along with their jerseys to donate proceeds to the NAACP.

 

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#SayHerName #BlackLivesMatter

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We fully support these players’ desires and actions to fight for change. To learn more about Force4Change, click here.