(Todd A. Smith)
If people call themselves proud Americans and they do not support the immediate release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian jail, they need to check themselves and their implicit, or explicit, bias.
Sure, Griner should not have brought cannabis oil to Russia, especially during these tumultuous times.
Sure, the laws in Russia do not always, if ever, mirror the laws in America.
Sure, accountability applies to all people, including famous people.
But if any American wants Griner to answer for her crimes but did not want an equal or harsher sentence for Audrey Lorber, then one must wonder why.
Shanique Yates of Revolt wrote, “A 2019 incident in which an American White woman was caught with 19 grams of marijuana in Russia has resurfaced following the Brittney Griner sentencing.
“Audrey Lorber, who was 19 at the time, served roughly two months in a Russian prison after she was found guilty of smuggling 19 grams of THC while on family vacation. She was also fined 15,000 rubles, which is the equivalent to about $375 American dollars…
“As previously reported by Revolt, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian judge on Thursday (Aug. 4). The WNBA superstar was also ordered to pay a fine of one-million rubles, which equals to $16,400 U.S. dollars.”
Robyn Dixon and Mary Ilyushina of the Washington Post reported, “Griner pleaded guilty last month to carrying vape cartridges with cannabis oil into the country. The prosecution contended that the 0.702 grams of cannabis found in her luggage after she landed at Sheremetyevo International Airport was a ‘significant amount.’”
If 0.702 grams of cannabis is a significant amount, what adjective should be used to describe the 19 grams of THC that Lorber brought into the same country in 2019?
Although different countries and jurisdictions have different laws and different judicial reputations, one thing seems constant throughout the world.
Often, Black people get harsher sentences for similar crimes than their White counterparts.
Furthermore, Black people often get harsher sentences than their White peers when the crimes of their White peers are astronomically worse.
Combine race with Griner’s sexuality, national origin, wealth, fame and Putin’s ungodly war in Ukraine, and a person is showing their true colors if they have all these tough words for Griner, while probably remaining silent on far worse offenders like Lorber.
Many people have taken to social media and branded Griner as unpatriotic.
Some have laughingly said that at least she does not have to hear the “Star Spangled Banner” while in a Russian prison.
Many professional athletes famously refused to stand during the American national anthem to protest systemic racism and police brutality against Black Americans.
But the reaction of so-called patriotic Americans to her prison sentence is why Black athletes protest racism in America in the first place.
Black athletes are good enough to entertain the masses if they are complicit with the oppression of their people.
Black athletes are good enough to entertain the masses if they are next to God in their perfection, never making a mistake in their entire life.
Black athletes are good enough to entertain people in other countries.
But when it benefits those same people that they entertain, they will switch up on you in a heartbeat.
They will make you a political pawn and suddenly be so tough on crime, while giving teenage White girls a virtual pass for committing worse crimes.
Those same critics who hate you for protesting racism, will show their racism whenever you do something that they do not like or approve of.
And no amount of money, fame or power can insulate a Black person from racism and oppression.
That is the reason why so many Black athletes and entertainers use their bully pulpit and platform to speak out for the least of these as Jesus describes the oppressed and poor.
What is happening to Griner could happen to any Black person at any time and the punishment is often far worse than it is for White people in similar situations.
That is why legends like LeBron James refuse to shut up and dribble like conservative clown Laura Ingraham told him to do when he began using his fame and power to put an end to police brutality against Black Americans.
To many White people around the globe, Black people are just N-words to use for their own political gain and to win their own stupid political games.
The reason that modern day policing and prisons became a thing in the first place was to re-enslave and oppress Black people so that White people could retain their political dominance after the Reconstruction era saw Blacks make political, educational and economic gains.
As a result, what many Black people see in the imprisonment of the Phoenix Mercury star center is just another attempt to use Black bodies to further the agenda of White people seeking to gain more power, more leverage and more clout.
Those reasons are why so many say, free B.G.
Not because Griner is blameless.
She should have double-checked her luggage to make sure she had nothing illegal when heading to Russia, especially during this political climate.
She should face some punishment for her crime.
However, keep the same energy when the criminal does not look like her or have her bank account or have her history of speaking out against racism.
And when you do not, it just proves people’s point that you, and this country, are indeed racist.