Imagine LeBron James gets on a plane to Russia only to end up a prisoner to the country at a time it is at war with a country the U.S. is supplying with weapons and other aid. The headlines would be innumerable, and the outrage would be tangible. Every reporter to politician would be seeking answers. In the case of Brittney Griner, her case has not gotten a quarter of the attention it deserves.
WNBA player Brittney Griner went missing in February of 2022. Originally, articles focusing on her disappearance were scarce. When the public finally found out she had been detained in Russia for allegedly possessing a marijuana vape pen at a Russian airport, former WNBA star Lisa Leslie said that officials had instructed Griner’s team to remain mum on the topic.
It is fully arguable and understandable that authorities would want to avoid causing ruffles with the public. Griner is captive to an enemy state, and avoiding antagonizing Russia is a smart move. However, silence in this case is hurting more than helping.
Many people don’t believe the United States government is doing enough to secure the safe return of Brittney Griner. There have been some talks between Griner and American government officials, but none of those talks have led to her release. Usually in a situation like this involving someone of Griner’s stature, reports concerning her would be headlining every station.
Race and gender have played a role in the mishandling and seeming indifference concerning Griner. It’s similar to the “Runaway Black Girl Theory” (RBGT); when a Black girl goes missing, instead of labeling her a missing person and pouring in resources to find her, authorities sometimes suggest a Black girl in this situation is a runway. Doing so gives them the cover they need to ignore her case.
As for Brittney Griner, some will say, “She had a vape pen and brought this on herself.” However, this does not excuse what seems to be the American government’s indifference in relation to Griner. Americans are known for causing trouble overseas and being saved by their country.
Michael Peter Fay is an American who vandalized over 18 cars in Singapore in 1993. In 1994, he was sentenced to a number of whips with a cane and ordered to pay fees. America fought hard to bring Peter home and get his sentenced tossed. Eventually, America was able to get Peter home, though he took six cane whips across the butt and paid a fine before Singapore freed him. He later committed several new crimes in America for which he was either given a slap on the wrist or allowed to walk away from without a conviction.
The above acknowledged, although Griner and Fay’s cases are not the same, they share similarities. Brittney Griner deserves the same American government backing and intervention Fay got. However, it does not seem that will happen. Some in America say they don’t see color; I’m beginning to think it’s true. They can’t – or just choose not to – see us.
Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and writer from Chicago, who creates fiction, nonfiction and local and national news stories. Subscribe and share to get new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here. Follow J Reed on Twitter @jreed913.