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Welcome Home, Brittney! - Poster of the Week

Bring Brittney Griner Home!

Nontira Kigle (@nontirakigle)

Digital Print, 2022

Augsburg, DE

Almost ten months after her detention in Russia began, Brittney Griner returned home to the US on Friday, December 9th.The Biden administration exchanged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for Griner’s release.

Griner was arrested in Moscow in February of this year after customs agents found a vape canister containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She was found guilty of “drug smuggling” and sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison. The substance is legal in some US states, but illegal in Russia.

Efforts to free Griner began with the We Are BG campaign and #BringBrittneyHome campaign by advocacy organization Black Feminist Future. The collective power of organizing, amplifying her arrest, and putting pressure on the Biden administration by Black, women-led orgs helped make her release possible. But dynamics of race and gender complicated public recognition of Griner’s case.

Following the demise of the Soviet Union and the discrediting of Soviet Marxism, Russian elites have been using homophobia to create a religiously conservative national identity that is different from US influenced western secular culture. Brittney Griner, a standout Black and gay woman basketball player, was a casualty of this policy.

Nevertheless, the Biden administration's condemnation of Russia's political prisoners must be critically examined. In an LA Times Op-Ed published Dec.9, Columnist LZ Granderson points out the hypocrisy of the US’s take on those wrongfully detained overseas, while inmates sit without charges or trial in Guantanamo Bay. “Imagine continuing to criticize human rights violations by other nations when the entire world knows we’ve been holding prisoners for nearly 20 years without a trial or even charges.”

Granderson goes on to say, “[t]he unpleasant fact is that while the U.S. is somewhat helpless when it comes to Whelan*, we are not helpless about the fates of the prisoners we are responsible for at Guantánamo. No one should be held for years without charges and a trial. It’s a pesky little ‘detail’ that should matter, especially in a country in love with the word ‘freedom.’”

May all those wrongfully detained and political prisoners in US detention and around the world be free.

Welcome home, Brittney!

*Paul Whelan, a former United States Marine with U.S., British, Irish, and Canadian citizenship, was arrested in Russia on December 28, 2018, and accused of spying. He is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence.


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