Brittney Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury and an Olympic gold medalist, was detained by the Russian Federal Customs Service in February for possession of vape cartridges containing hashish oil. The Russians consider hashish oil a contraband substance. Her trial began July 1. Joe Biden has been silent on Griner’s detainment in Russia. Griner’s wife, Cherelle, is fed up with what she considers a lack of attention from both Biden and Kamala.

After remaining quiet after Brittney was held captive, Cherelle is now speaking up and demanding that Biden do something toward the release of Brittney. The issue is becoming a racial one. A letter was signed by 1,200 Black women of all ages and professions, courtesy of Win With Black Women, an “intergenerational and intersectional” Black women’s group. They demand the Biden administration increase its efforts to free Brittney.

“It’s been more than 134 days and in our opinion that’s just 134 days too many for anyone to be subjected to the conditions [Griner] has been,” said Jotaka Eaddy, founder of Win With Black Women.

Signers of the letter included Bernice King, CEO of the King Center and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.; Terri Jackson, executive director of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association; and Dawn Staley, basketball Hall of Famer, three-time Olympic gold medalist and head coach of South Carolina Gamecocks.

If Brittney was a White woman, would the group of Black women be making demands in defense of Brittney? It seems unlikely. Jackson released a statement to The Hill which said ” the letter helps the organization “raise the alarm and convey a clear message of urgency to the President about our sister.”

“This letter in support of Brittney is an embrace from a powerful group of women that strengthens our resolve and allows us to keep fighting for BG,” Jackson said. “We are not The 144 without her. We need BG back home now with her family.”

The collective’s letter follows Griner’s handwritten note to the president on July 4 begging for a prisoner exchange. In her letter, Griner said she is “terrified” she will be in Russia forever.

On Wednesday, Biden and Kamala spoke on the phone with Cherelle Griner. They shared a draft of a letter the president will send Brittney. The Biden administration insists it is doing all it can to secure Brittney’s release. The group of Black women said they are “concerned that the rhetoric does not appear to align with the actions taken to date.” The letter Brittney sent to Biden made of point of saying she voted for him – the first time she voted in her life, she said – and sounds like she expects stronger efforts from him because of that.

The group of Black women want Biden to make a deal to bring Brittney home. “We’re hopeful that our continued advocacy and efforts will send a strong message and make very clear that Black women want to see a deal done to bring Brittney home,” said Eaddy. I find the whole racial component in this hostage situation disconcerting.

I’ll say I am sorry Brittney is being held as she is being held. She must be terrified. Russians are brutal. However, I have to ask – what the hell was she thinking? She had to have known that a vape cartridge with hashish oil was illegal, especially during international travel. As it is, her political activism is on display through the t-shirts she wears. It is as if the Black women are making racism the cause of her detention.

The coach of the Phoenix Mercury adds sexism to the discussion.

Is the coach implying that Joe Biden isn’t doing all he can because Brittney is a woman? Doesn’t she know how differential Joe Biden is to Black women? He’s beholden to Black women for his election in 2020. Unfortunately for Brittney and other Americans being held against their will overseas, Biden is an inept and incompetent president. He doesn’t show much concern for almost anything or anyone. He is in no way as successful as, say, Donald Trump, who was very successful in getting hostages released and back home. Remember, it was Biden’s state department and defense department that planned and executed the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden’s boast of his expertise on foreign policy was always a joke.

As it turns out, Griner’s family got in touch with the Richardson Center in late February. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Mickey Bergman, the vice president and executive director at the Richardson Center, visited Moscow and met with officials to facilitate the release of Griner and Paul Whelan, the security contractor accused by Russia of espionage. There is conflict, though, between Richardson and the Biden White House.

Bergman told West Wing Playbook that Griner’s family quietly got in touch with the Richardson Center in late February when the WNBA star was first detained over what Russia says was possession of hash cartridges. Richardson and Bergman had just returned from Moscow, where they met with Russian government officials to advocate for the release of Whelan and former Marine Trevor Reed. Bergman suggested Cherelle Griner get in touch with the office of Roger Carstens, special envoy for hostage affairs. But they did not start working with the family until April, when Griner’s team began a more public effort to get her released.

Bergman said he and Richardson are also in communication with the White House about the issue. But there is tension between the two units. The Biden administration has looked at Richardson with some annoyance, viewing the freelance diplomatic efforts as a bit of a publicity stunt and an occasional complication with official efforts.

Still, the Richardson team has been credited with playing a role in the release of Reed earlier this year. And the administration publicly thanked Richardson for helping secure the release of Danny Fenster from Myanmar.

That seems to be standard for Biden’s White House. They play defense, not offense, on just about everything. They show no urgency on anything. The administration gives no indication that they have a plan for anything, frankly. Crises build before any moves are made to solve them.

Perhaps a prisoner exchange will happen. Russia wants the release of Viktor Bout. For years, Russia has been unsuccessful in making a deal for him. He was convicted in 2011 of “offering to sell weapons to U.S. federal agents posing as representatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.” It looks like it has taken Cherelle Griner speaking out about Biden’s lack of attention to Brittney’s situation and the press coverage of Brittney’s letter to Biden to spark some action by the president. We’ll see what happens from here but Brittney is likely to remain in Russian custody for months into the future.

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...