Sandra Bland. Breonna Taylor. Vanessa Guillen.
The WNBA and its union vowed Monday to amplify the names of women whose deaths are linked to police action or alleged racial violence when the league resumes play later this month, ESPN reported.
Specifically, the players’ requests to have the names of women who have been killed by police or via racially motivated acts of violence on their jerseys have been approved, and warm-up jerseys featuring the phrases “Say Her Name” and “Black Lives Matter” will also be incorporated for the truncated 2020 season, The Guardian reported.
“Black Lives Matter” will also be featured prominently on the courts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Monday’s announcement also officially launched “The Justice Movement,” a joint initiative between the league and the players’ union to promote social justice, ESPN reported.
According to the sports news network, the platform includes the creation of a player-led Social Justice Council, featuring Layshia Clarendon, Sydney Colson, Breanna Stewart, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, A’ja Wilson and Satou Sabally, among others. High-profile advisers to the council will include Alicia Garza, founder of Black Future Labs, a political activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter; Carolyn DeWitt, CEO of Rock the Vote; and Beverly Bond, the founder and CEO of BLACK GIRLS ROCK!
“We are incredibly proud of WNBA players who continue to lead with their inspiring voices and effective actions in the league’s dedicated fight against systemic racism and violence,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a prepared statement. “Working together with the WNBPA and the teams, the league aims to highlight players’ social justice efforts throughout the 2020 season and beyond. Systemic change can’t happen overnight, but it is our shared responsibility to do everything we can to raise awareness and promote the justice we hope to see in society.”
Meanwhile, Nneka Ogwumike, president of the league’s players’ association, said the initiative holds global promise, The Guardian reported.
“As many WNBA players–past and present–have said and, more importantly, consistently demonstrated, the reason why you see us engaging and leading the charge when it comes to social advocacy is because it is in our DNA,” Ogwumike said.
“With 140-plus voices all together for the first time ever, we can be a powerful force connecting to our sisters across the country and in other parts of the world. And may we all recognize that the league’s stated commitment to us – in this season and beyond – offers a pivotal moment in sports history,” she added.
According to ESPN, the Social Justice Council is intended to create community conversations, virtual roundtables, player-produced podcasts and myriad activities to “address inequality, implicit bias and systemic racism that has targeted Black and brown communities.”
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