- Programming note: Watch “Race in America: A Candid Conversation” Wednesday, November 3 at 5:30 PM on NBC Sports Bay Area.
While men often dismiss outspoken women as whining, or worse, history teaches us to listen. The present does the same.
For a prominent example of intelligent women leading the way and carrying the brightest lights, look no further than the WNBA.
With the Delta strain of COVID-19 destroying families, and countless NBA players still trying to avoid vaccines, Washington Mystics player Natasha Cloud went public in hopes of killing Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, who is one of to convince the stragglers.
“The information has already been presented to us several times,” Cloud tweeted in a response. “And they never said it would stop us from getting COVID. But it drastically reduces the chance of death and slows the curve.”
This is a case of the woman leading the man, but the man refusing to follow. It is believed that Beal is not vaccinated.
This is just one example of the WNBA being on the front lines in tackling issues that really matter. That’s why we invited Nikki Fargas, President of Las Vegas Aces and LSU Prof. Lori Martin to share their experiences and observations on the episode of “Race in America: A Candid Conversation,” which premieres Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. on NBC Sports. Bay Area.
Fargas coached basketball at the collegiate level for over two decades before being hired by Mark Davis, who owns both the WNBA Aces and Las Vegas Raiders. He was specific about her job requirements.
“When Mark Davis talked to me about becoming president of the Aces, it wasn’t about basketball,” she recalls. “It wasn’t about sales. It wasn’t about rebounds. It wasn’t about assists. It was about how we can help women move forward. And specifically, if you look at the WNBA, we’re densely populated with black women, women of color, who have played an important role in keeping it in the athletic world.
Whether it’s Cloud trying to relieve Beal, or WNBA teams coming together to protest racism – before Colin Kaepernick got to his knees – history is repeating itself. Leading black women is almost routine, from Sojourner Truth to Harriet Tubman to Ida B. Wells to Fannie Lou Hamer to Rosa Parks. . . to Ruby Bridges to Gloria Richardson to Angela Davis to Stacey Abrams and Rep. Cori Bush.
It’s like sacrificing for the greater good is, well, second nature. hmm.
When Senator Kelly Loeffler, co-owner of the WNBA Atlanta Dream, railed against the Black Lives Matter movement and joined the racism that former President Donald Trump espoused in the run-up to the 2020 election, the Dream’s roster came in action. They wanted Loeffler to be as gone as Donald Sterling.
So the Dream players and those around the WNBA teamed up with Abrams, formerly of the Georgia House of Representatives, to achieve both. Loeffler lost the election to Rep. Rafael Warnock, a black man. A month later, the team was sold to a new group, which included former Dream star Renee Montgomery.
Mission accomplished. Work well done.
“It was really powerful and it reminded me of the legacy of black people and activism and the role of black women in particular,” said Martin, a sociologist who has written or co-authored more than a dozen books.
“You have people who are able to mobilize others to face difficult challenges so that the group as a whole can thrive. And black women have historically done that, whether you’re talking about the slavery era with Sojourner Truth drawing attention to the unique experiences of black women, but also linking that to the wider community, including black men.
One of society’s greatest problems with women is not their inability to lead, but the man’s tendency to choose when to listen.
Which brings us back to Cloud and Beal. They are close friends, standing side by side in the nation’s capital to tackle racial and ethnic injustice. Cloud came from a place of knowledge, hoping to reach someone she cares about.
Essentially, she wondered about those who distrust preventive science — until they’re affected and then turn to the science of emergency responders in hospitals.
The WNBA, you see, wasn’t just there for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and Jacob Blake and Ahmaud Arbery, all victims of law enforcement in 2020, but it was there in the summer of 2016 for Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the Black Lives Matter movement.
And when WNBA president Lisa Borders fined those who wore protest clothes instead of conforming to uniform guidelines, players across the league united against it. The fines have been withdrawn.
Two years later, Borders left the WNBA, later replaced by Cathy Engelbert, who has supported the voices of activism.
The minimization of women, consciously or unconsciously, can be with us forever, in which case it’s an eternal indictment of the man’s pathological desire to equate physical prowess with, er, superiority.
If only we took the time to listen to what they have to say, we would all become more enlightened.