When the Las Vegas Aces tip off in Game 1 of the 2020 WNBA Finals, A’ja Wilson–this year’s WNBA Most Valuable Player, a two-time All-Star and the 2018 Rookie of the Year–will be playing for Black girls everywhere, especially those with apostrophes in their names. Rich or poor, tall or short, athlete or non-athlete, Black women and girls have needed something to cheer about this year and Wilson’s success provides. But fans should not underestimate the pressures and demands she faces as an elite basketball player trying to win a championship during pandemic and protest.
In late September, the league announced its decision to award the 2020 WNBA Community Assist Award to all players for their work on social justice. Wilson and Sydney Colson of the Chicago Sky, both members of the league’s newly-created Social Justice Council, spoke to select media via Zoom conference about the council’s work and the impact of racial injustice on their lives.
Bethany Donaphin, head of WNBA basketball operations, and Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder of the African-American Policy Forum and creator of the Say Her Name campaign, also spoke.