Black women – inside and outside of sports – are why we are returning to arenas

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

Remember 2020? Yeah, that is a year that we are pretty sure no wants to remember and everyone would like to forget.

But we must remember 2020 for the atrocity that it was. An international pandemic that took so many lives that did not have to be taken. A botched response to the coronavirus outbreak that could have been prevented if “leadership” simply followed the science instead of making it about one’s own insecurity and inflated ego.

A time that saw sports “return,” but without one of its most integral elements – fans in the stands. Several leagues – including the WNBA, NWHL and NWSL had held its season inside enclosed bubbles and as the Chiney Ogwumike-executive produced ESPN Films 144 documentary showed, these enclosed spaces were extremely mentally draining on these players.

Fast forward to May 2021. We are finally beginning to get the outbreak under control because of the successful rollout of several vaccines that are free and available to most the public at large. A rising percentage of the population is now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

There are few signs that the tide against the pandemic has turned moreso than the fact that we are returning to sporting venues – and en masse. Has anyone watched the NBA playoff games? Venues such as Madison Square Garden are letting in 15,000 fans for the New York Knicks’ opening playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks. State Farm Arena is also planning on going near full capacity for the postseason.

This is something we are seeing throughout sports – including in the WNBA. Most W teams are operating at limited attendance for now, but it is a far distance from the enclosed nature of the Wubble in Florida.

Anyone who goes to a sporting event – whether it is a WNBA game, NBA playoff game or anyplace better really think about why that they are at the event instead of continuing to view sports through a Zoom screen.

They should find a Black, Brown, Asian, Muslim or Native American woman (or a white ally) that is in that crowd and say thank you.

Black women – such as the women of the WNBA – have consistently proven themselves to be the conscience of this country. Arguably, Black, Brown and Asian women have proven themselves to be the conscience of this world. As disrespected and as unappreciated as our Black, Brown, Native American, Asian and Muslim brethren are, they show up and show up and show up again.

Being a Black, Brown, Native American, Asian or Muslim woman (or a white ally such as Sue Bird, Megan Rapinoe or Breanna Stewart) is a thankless endeavour and we have seen first hand how the pandemic has disproportionately affected nonwhite communities.

These women stand up in the face of oppression and sickness and work hard to make this world a better place. Because they have experienced both xenophobia and misogyny, the experience they have gained enables them to be able to say that the country (and society at large) has problems and that something must be done about them.

Black, Brown, Native American, Asian, Muslim women and white allies looked at the pandemic last year and saw that the only way the tide would turn inside and outside of the country on Covid was if new leadership was elected into the White House. Look at what happened in November with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Why were they elected? Black, Brown, Asian, Native American, Muslim women and white allies – particularly in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit and the WNBA cities of Phoenix and Atlanta. Then – the women of Georgia showed up again to ensure that the U.S. Senate was flipped from red to blue with Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff being elected and ex-Dream owner Kelly Loeffler being ousted from her temporary Senate post.

Black, Brown, Native American, Asian, Muslim women and white allies are why we are now closer to us beating the virus rather than the virus beating us. And as a result, it is why sporting events once again have actual fans in those stands instead of cardboard cutouts and virtual video screens.

It is this reality that is why more has to be done to continue to elevate these women. Look at what Renee Montgomery has done with the Dream. A Black woman Director of Basketball Operations. An all-Black woman announce team. Two Black woman assistant coaches. She (and other women’s sports luminaries like Muffet McGraw) gets it because she, as a Black woman, understands that as much as Black women are constantly disrespected in society, they are essentially the glue that is holding society together. And we are better because of them.

Black, Brown, Asian, Native American, Muslim women and white allies may be the reason why we are returning to sports arenas. But it is long time we recognize our queens for much more than simply that. They stand unafraid to call out society when society is clearly committing wrongs. They contribute to our culture in ways that are priceless. Their ideas on how to make the world a better place are something that we should all try to emulate on a daily basis.

It is long past time to change how we view Black, Asian, Latina, Native American and Muslim women along with our white allies. We may not be able to change the oppression of the past, but we can set the groundwork for a better future in which these women are actually thanked and appreciated for their countless contributions to society. The style, the strength, the swag, the resilience. The talent, the brains, the beauty and the integrity. All of it and then some.

As much as we should be saying thank you to Black, Latina, Native American, Muslim, Asian women plus white allies, better job opportunities, more pay, equal representation and greater recognition for what they contribute to society would be a real thank you. These women are the backbone of our society and many do it for no reward when they are more than deserving. They give so much of themselves and we should give back. It is only fitting that they are responsible for returning a sense of calm back to society because one can only imagine how far gone our society would be if it were not for Black, Brown, Native American, Muslim and Asian women as well as white allies.

As the great Ari Chambers would say, women are so important.