Women’s basketball community members speak out in response to death of George Floyd and protests

In light of the recent deaths of black Americans at the hands of police and subsequent protests around the country over the last week of May, women’s basketball athletes, coaches, and administrators are once again speaking out against injustice.

The first wave of statements against racism and police brutality came after the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed by an ex-law enforcement officer and his son in Brunswick, Georgia in late February. However, the two were not investigated for the crime until a video surfaced in early May.

The March 13 shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, by Louisville, Kentucky police officers who invaded her home looking for a man who was already in custody and with no connection to Taylor, also sparked outrage.

With the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, tensions between police officers and black Americans reached a tipping point that led to protests around the country, many of which turned violent due to outside infiltrators who, in some cases, were white supremacists.

Dawn Staley, the head coach of South Carolina and U.S. senior national women’s team, was among the first high profile coaches to voice her opinion on the murders.

She wrote an essay that appeared in The Players’ Tribune on June 1 outlining her thoughts punctuated by a personal anecdote about her family being afraid that her mother, who grew up in South Carolina, would be lynched after speaking up for herself. From her essay:

Some of these killings you only hear about. You hear about them, and you can only imagine. But you don’t see someone actually lying there. Gasping for air. Taking their last breath. A mother’s son. A brother.

What do you say to young people who’ve seen that video?

What do I say to my nieces and nephews?

What do I say to my players? They’re like my kids.

I want to give them at least some hope that what happened to George Floyd will never happen to them, but I don’t have the words. Because the truth is: That very well could happen to any of us.

Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair, who started his career coaching at an all-black high school in South Dallas, wrote in a statement:

“My heart breaks for the young women in our program and our coaches who are angry, confused and saddened by incidents of the past few weeks, and now, the death of George Floyd. Unfortunately, for many of them and their families, this is not the first time that they must ask, why? We all should be asking why, regardless of our race or ethnicity.”

Others joined in as well, from WNBA players to athletic administrators. The following is just a smattering of some of the messages posted on social media from members of the women’s basketball community. Coaches and athletes continue to post their thoughts and talk about efforts to bring justice for the families of those who died because of the violent effects of systemic racism in the U.S.

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