Guest Editorial: Double standards generate double jeopardy

Brittney Griner is an African American female basketball player currently detained in Russia for allegedly being caught with an illegal substance. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and player for the WBNA’s Phoenix Mercury, was accused by Russian authorities of smuggling significant amounts of a narcotic substance, an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Her arrest has been extended until May 19, according to Russian news agency TASS.

Griner, a top-rated basketball player in the United States, has traveled back and forth to Russia to play basketball. It is said that her salary in Russia far surpasses what she makes in the United States due to huge disparities in the amount of money female athletes make in comparison to what their male counterparts make.

Griner has been behind bars in Russia since February. Though she has been in this predicament since that time, very little is being said about her plight due to the suggestion that people close to her don’t want to have a lot said about her because it could create more trouble for her. This may be why one of our own citizens, an accomplished African American female athlete, is languishing behind bars with very little attention publicly given to the matter.

Though it may be true that Griner might fare better if people around her don’t stir up controversy, it’s also true that if an African American male athlete who is her counterpart was incarcerated in Russia, things would be quite different.

For example, it would not be hard to imagine how things would be going if Lebron James was being detained in a Russian prison. You could rest assured that the low din that we hear now would have increased into a mighty roar by now.

It is unimaginable that the collective noise of dissent would be this muted if one of our top male athletes was detained. Brittney Griner is top caliber; it is said that she is the breakout star of the WNBA. Her male counterpart in a similar situation would not be almost invisible.

One of the reasons, aside from not stirring up controversy in order to keep from antagonizing her adversaries in Russia, is the meme going around that she committed a crime. People who are demonstrating less than sympathy for Griner are quick to point out that she broke the law and therefore deserves whatever punishment is coming to her.

This may be true, but it is also true that she is being treated differently by people in the United States. It’s almost as though she is dispensable because she is a Black female athlete and not a celebrated male!

Hopefully, the tables will turn in Griner’s favor, but whether they do or do not, and she ends up serving time, it is still true that she is treated differently probably because she is a woman!

Which brings us to the point that there are still double standards when dealing with males and females in the United States. Let’s face it; American society is very misogynistic, and even more daunting, demonstrates misogynoir; i.e., misogyny specifically targeting Black women.

It would be easy to point a finger at men in this regard, but the sad fact is that Black women tend to be just as guilty when it comes to devaluing and justifying the mistreatment of Black women. This is why the women and girls involved in the R. Kelly debacle get so much flack from the public for coming forth with their allegations.

Women in America are seen as “less than,” which is one of the reasons why high-profile women garner a disproportionate amount of opposition from the public, even though, if the truth be told, they are doing a disproportionate amount of the work keeping families and our society together.

It is a truism that it takes two to tango; opposites attract and bond. Between any two things, balance is generated because each one brings a specific quality to the pairing. Black communities are severely off balance as evidenced by reports that over 78 percent of all households are headed by single women who are, ironically, blamed for that predicament.

Misogynoir is a problem that must be solved if our communities are to survive and thrive. The community will remain compromised until we realize that men and women must act as equal partners, and that misogynoir-generated double jeopardy is an impediment to the formation of healthy, balanced communities! A Luta Continua.

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