America just celebrated its independence, but WNBA player Brittney Griner is feeling anything but independent while still in detention in Russia. The beleaguered Phoenix Mercury Center penned a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden over the weekend to appeal for his assistance in her release.
However, with no substantial efforts to obtain Griner’s safe return to the States, it begs the question: Does Brittney Griner’s life matter?
“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner said in an excerpt from the letter reportedly shared by her representatives.
“Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore,” Griner continued “I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”
Griner is from a country where being Black, a woman, and gay is not necessarily the widely accepted marketing image. Although there have been many strides in receiving alternative lifestyles in the country, Griner has multi-minority status in America.
"Whatever it takes to get her home … I think it's definitely time." pic.twitter.com/jf89kBOFi9
— ESPN (@espn) July 5, 2022
It is a point her coach wanted to drive home as one of her star players languishes in a cell with constant delays leaving Griner in a perpetual holding pattern of “justice.”
“If it was LeBron, he’d be home. Right?” said Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard on CNN. “It’s a statement about the value of women. It’s a statement about the value of a black person. It’s a statement about the value of a gay person. All of those things. We know it, and so that’s what hurts a little more.”
Biden has allowed the U.S. State Department to lead on reports about their U.S. efforts to free Griner. The agency said that it determined that Brittney was “wrongfully detained.”
— ESPN (@espn) May 26, 2022
However, Biden did not use the platform of Independence Day to make a statement to Russia and the country on how it will secure the independence of one of its highest-profile citizens.
Griner’s wife revealed the gut-wrench it is to update the detained player that she has yet to meet with the President about his action plan to secure her release.
“It kills me every time that, you know, when I have to write her and she’s asking, ‘Have you met with them yet?’ And I have to say no,” Cherelle Griner said on CBS Mornings. “I’m sure she is like ‘I’m going to write him and ask now because my family has tried to no avail, so I’m going to do it myself.'”
Phoenix Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard in an interview with CNN said, “If it was Lebron he’d be home,” supporting the notion of a double standard in Griner’s situation.
Griner faces a potential sentence of 10 years in a Russian prison, with her trial resuming this week on July 7. Griner is charged by the Russian government for a “large-scale transportation of drugs,” after allegedly being caught with vape cartridges.
If Griner checked all the boxes, would Biden prioritize her at the very least on the surface to create more extensive support? Vice President Kamala Harris, who can relate to Griner on at least two of her multi-minority statuses, where is she?
All these questions and more will grow and lay at the feet of Joe Biden every day that Brittney Griner sits in detention in Russia.