“Free the Beast”

Brittney Griner is an American women’s professional basketball player, she is 6 ‘9 205lb. Griner is an Olympic gold medalist, a NCAA champion, a FIBA World champion, and WNBA champion. Griner was detained February 7, 2022, in Russia. After the Russian authorities accused her of having hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. Ms. Griner had been in Russia to compete for UMMC Yekaterinburg, a professional women’s basketball team. Griner’s detainment has been extended to December 2022. 

“On July 7, 2022, Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges. With a guilty plea an all but a foregone conclusion in a Russian legal system that heavily favors the prosecution, her best hope, experts say, is that the Biden administration secure her freedom by releasing a Russian held in the United States.The name of one criminal Viktor Bout, facing 25 years in prison to life.”According to the New York Times. 

Whose fault is this? Yes, it is partly Russia’s fault, but it’s also the US’s fault. Why? Griner would have never had to go to Russia if Women professional basketball players were not underpaid. Women professional basketball players average salary is $120,648.The highest paid in the Women professional basketball players make $221,450. Yes, this may seem like a lot to some of us, but WNBA players don’t get paid nearly the same as the NBA players. The average salary of a Men’s professional basketball player is 7.5 million dollars. In 2021, annual earnings for women in the U.S. were just 82.3% of what men earned. If the WNBA salary was close to the NBA salary, Griner would not have been detained in Russia. Ms. Griner’s salary is $221,450 in the United States. On the other hand the WNBA superstar makes over 1 million dollars in Russia. Five times as much as she makes in the U.S. This is still nothing compared to Men basketball players, but it’s still much better than $221,450.

Many Americans surprisingly support the ongoing detainment of Brittany Griner. I am perplexed by the support of the Russian detainment as we all are supporting a country that is at war with Russia. Mrs. Griner is a personal hero of mine because she took the unpopular route of protesting against racism in America.  While taking a knee before WNBA games, Mrs. Griner showed that was aware of the racism that is experienced in America by those that have a similar heritage. What I am through this entire debacle is that there is nothing more American than racism. Challenging what has been the basis of American culture is extremely dangerous and making “America Great Again” is all about putting minorities in their place.  I have learned that people will celebrate your demise, and cheer for you in the same breath.  As I read more and more about this tragedy, I am more fearful of being an Afro-Latino woman in America.  When will it be safe to use your voice? At this rate, never in America, the country I love, but doesn’t love me back.

What am I going to do about it? I plan to start a basketball interviewing channel, interviewing young girl basketball players, and seeing their perspectives on different subjects. Sharing this with the world would hopefully open their minds to the younger generation. Now we have older people trying to make plans for us, but they don’t see the world like we do. Is this enough? Probably not. But It’s not only a start to a new beginning, but a better beginning.

Chole Santos – Trinity High School – DMSF Class of 2026

Image: 123RF