WNBA players made a strong statement in honor of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man who was shot by a Kenosha, WI police seven times. The Washington Mystics took the court in white shirts that spelled out Jacob’s name on the front, and had seven bullet holes on the back, representing the seven times he was shot. While the Milwaukee Bucks, and the rest of the NBA have stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, the WNBA has been no exception. We spoke to Mystics star Jacki Gemelos about why her team made such a strong stance.
“Our head coach, Mike Thibault came up with the idea of having the gunshots on the back of the t shirts … I came up with an idea that was generated from a friend of mine in the bubble, Robyn Brown. She asked me how many players were on our team and I said 10. She was like, ‘Jacob Blake, that is 10 letters, why don’t you all put the letters on the front of the shirts’ and I thought that was amazing and a great idea. I brought that to my team and decided to do it,” she told HollywoodLife exclusively.
Jacki also opened up about why their team decided to boycott the game earlier in the week. “I think it was really important, especially for the Washington Mystics to make noise,” she said. “We came into the game knowing we weren’t going to play and didn’t want to play. I really commend the group of girls for standing by what we believed in even though other teams were trying to influence otherwise.” The basketball star said the team were inspired by the Bucks’ strong stance, which made them the first NBA franchise in the league’s history to boycott a game over social justice issues.
“We thought it was our responsibility, even though we don’t generate as much of a fan base and revenue and things like that … [it] doesn’t take away the fact that we wanted our voices heard as well,” Jacki said. “That is why we wear Breonna Taylor‘s name on the back of our jerseys and that is why we have been advocating for Black Lives Matter this entire season and I think that in a different way we took a stand and that was to not play the game, and not playing today and picking up things tomorrow, just making that noise and statement was important to us.”
Jacki also said female basketball players were at a “disadvantage” when standing up for social justice issues, because they aren’t afforded the same “respect” as their male counterparts. “I already have had crazy comments [on Instagram]. It is just kind of an eye roll, it doesn’t affect me personally,” she said. “[We have] team unity and are behind one another, including the staff and the referees and everyone in the bubble. We all kind of don’t care or give a s**t what anyone else has to say or their political views. This is where we stand and this is who we are and this is what it is.”