WNBA Players Continue Their Black Lives Matter Protest With A Media Blackout

The WNBA teams that were fined for wearing Black Lives Matter shirts are not having any of it. They’re paying the fines, but are also taking the issue very seriously and for good reason. Instead of continuing to break the uniform code, WNBA players are protesting with a media blackout and turning their warm up shirts inside out. It’s pretty fucking genius. According to Deadspin, New York Liberty players wore their shirts inside out Thursday — with one player, Tina Charles, accepting her player of the month award in the shirt — and then addressed reporters after the game as a unit. Instead of taking questions about the game or anything basketball related, women told the press they wanted to talk about issues.

Charles, Tanisha Wright, and Swin Cash were the spokespeople for the entire team. Wright told reporters, “We feel like America has a problem with the police brutality that’s going on with black lives around here, and we just want to use our voices and use our platform to advocate for that.”

Cash added, “We really would appreciate if people stopped making our support of Black Lives Matter, an issue that is so critical in our society right now, as us not supporting the police.There’s a lot of women in this room right now, in the WNBA, who have family members who are in law enforcement… People need to understand that it’s not mutually exclusive. You can support both things.”

In the visiting locker room, the Indiana Fever were doing the same thing. Given that Thursday was also the same day Republican nominee Donald Trump was addressing the nation with his rhetoric, it’s really fucking powerful and necessary that these women keep at it. It’s so screwed up that wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts was a punishable offense — $500 is a lot of money for some of these women who already don’t make anywhere near their male counterparts.

Black Lives Matter is politicized in a way that gets to the heart of the very idea of the movement. Sports leagues always support causes. The WNBA and Adidas, the sponsor of the league, handed t-shirts out after the Orlando shooting to raise money for the victims’ families. If they hadn’t been issued by the league, and the women had been fined for showing their support, it would have been obvious to call the league homophobic.

Likewise, it’s just racist to not allow players to talk about the recent, tragic shootings of black men and women by police officers and the deaths of five police officers in Dallas. Another black man was shot, with his hands up, just yesterday before their game. It’s not time to be silent, and it’s not time for successful, crazy talented women, 70 percent of whom are African-American, to pay their fines and leave it at that.

Keep those shirts turned out and keep repeating the message. Now it’s time for other teams in the league to do the same. Hey, guys over at the NBA, maybe you could say something, too.