President Biden didn’t need The Worm’s help after all. Brittney Griner is home. After spending nearly 300 days in Russia because she was caught with a little bit of hash oil at Sheremetyevo International Airport, the WNBA star will get to spend Christmas with her family, instead of serving a nine-year prison sentence at a Russian labor camp. The terms of the deal demanded she get swapped for Viktor Bout, an arms dealer whose nickname is Merchant of Death (famously depicted by Nicolas Cage in 2005’s Lord of War).
Bond villain for a red-eyed basketball player doesn’t seem like a fair trade, but this should make you happy for Griner. It’s not perfect, far from it, but to reiterate, that woman is coming home. Yet, folks have found spurious reasons to be upset.
The usual suspects have weighed in. Donald Trump called the exchange “a stupid and unpatriotic embarrassment,” on Truth Social. Tucker Carlson blasted the Biden Administration for, in his eyes, giving Griner’s release more precedence than that of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan’s. He went on blabbering about Black lesbian privilege or something like that.
Make no mistake, the reason why these people are so upset is because, for all the talk about not politicizing moments, they’re experts at it. And a Black lesbian woman’s suffering has been ended, so it shakes them to their core.
However, some Black men on socials have taken up the cause of being concerned about why Griner is back on American soil. The most notable example is Dallas Cowboys star Micah Parsons. He tweeted his displeasure about Griner’s release and quickly walked back those statements, writing “I should have been more educated on the topic and not tweeted out of emotion for my family and other[s] who have served.” It’s true that negotiations for Whelan, who was discharged from the military for larceny and arrested in Moscow for espionage, have been ongoing, this is just the best deal that was on the table and Biden took it. The eureka moment hasn't stopped Parsons from earning the nickname Pass Rush Limbaugh. Black Twitter is undefeated.
In regards to Griner, expressing disappointment in her release is—for lack of a better term—some sucker shit. This woman was sentenced to nine years in a foreign country's prison for having a little weed. Questioning why it was necessary to exchange her for a violent criminal is a worthy avenue, but this is the game of geopolitical politics. It’s nasty. It’s a true example of not hating the player, but hating the game. It’s hard not to see a lot of the cover as criticism that isn’t far off from Carlson's or Trump’s, a deep disdain for Black women—especially queer Black women.
There is something beneath the surface to take issue with, though. The picture of the evil foreign country subjecting a woman of color to excessive punishment for a minor crime is a red herring. Does that not happen in the United States? Nine years in prison for a little weed, hell, you might know someone who has experienced this. If you’re gonna be mad, be mad at the people that make that possible in America. Don’t be mad that a Black woman’s got her freedom. I hope she rolls up a fat joint and gets so high she’s dribbling asteroids. She deserves it.