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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Book Review: ‘Coming Home,’ by Brittney Griner with Michelle Burford - The New York Times

Brittney Griner, in Her Own Words

"News stories have chronicled the basketball star’s detention in a Russian prison. Here’s her version.

A close-up of Brittney Griner’s face, which is partially obscured by the bars of the cage she is standing in during her trial.
Brittney Griner listening to the verdict in her trial while standing in a cage in a Russian courtroom.Evgenia Novozhenina/Pool Photo, via Associated Press

COMING HOME, by Brittney Griner with Michelle Burford

If you weren’t following women’s basketball, you probably hadn’t heard of Brittney Griner when she was arrested at a Moscow-area airport in February 2022. But she was a bona fide superstar — an Olympic gold medalist, a W.N.B.A. All-Star and the linchpin of her team, the Phoenix Mercury.

When she was detained, she was traveling to her $1 million off-season job with UMMC Yekaterinburg, a top team in the wildly popular Russian women’s basketball league where she had played for seven years, in part to supplement her $220,000 salary with the Mercury. Her crime: possessing 0.7 grams of medicinal marijuana oil — legally prescribed in the United States — that she had forgotten to remove from her bag.

“Fear is one thing,” Griner writes in “Coming Home,” her new memoir, describing the stomach-curdling moment when an inspector seized her passport and told her to wait. “But uncertainty, the unknown, a free fall into mystery — that’s much stronger than fear; it’s terror.”

At first, Griner naïvely thought she would be fined and sentenced to house arrest. But possession of even a small amount of drugs is a serious offense in Russia, and she was eventually charged with narcotics smuggling. Days later, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Griner found herself a high-profile pawn in a vicious geopolitical battle.

“Coming Home” is a visceral, harrowing account of what it’s like to be trapped inside Russia’s infamous criminal justice system, with its merciless judges and vast labor camps.

The book cover for “Coming Home” is a photograph of the author from the shoulders up, shot from below. She gazes toward the left edge of the book.

It’s also the harrowing-in-a-different-way story of what it’s like to grow up Black, female, gay and startlingly tall in Texas. Griner’s mother, Sandra, is loving and religious; her father, Raymond, is a Vietnam War veteran and a traffic cop. Racism has always shadowed the family. James Byrd Jr. — the Texas man who was murdered in 1998 by three white men who beat him, spray-painted his face and dragged him by his heels behind a pickup truck until his head was severed from his body — was Raymond’s third cousin.

As she grew (and grew and grew), people teased Griner for her height, her deep voice and her flat chest. “When you’re born in a body like mine, a part of you dies every day, with every mean comment and lingering stare,” she writes. “You’re the biggest person in the room, but you’re also the loneliest.”

The taunting didn’t stop when she became an adult. Once, when ordered to leave a women’s bathroom by two airport employees who had addressed her as “Sir,” she pulled down her sweatpants to show them that she belonged there. “I get mistaken for male so frequently I’ve learned to just keep it moving,” she writes. “My heart, however, can’t always.”

As a girl, she followed her father around, joyfully doing yard work and learning how to fix cars while he taught her his philosophy of living. But when she came out during her senior year of high school, he ordered her out of the house, yelling, “I ain’t raising no gay bitch!” (He never formally apologized, but they gradually worked it out. “I’m proud of Pops, he’s proud of me, and we’re finally at peace,” she writes.)

Griner, ably assisted by her co-writer, Michelle Burford, describes the Russian penal system — the filth, the interrogations by prison psychiatrists about her sexuality and her supposed drug addiction, the guards’ casual cruelty — in vivid, conversational language. After months in detention, she was sent to Corrective Colony No. 2 in Mordovia, more than 300 miles from Moscow. There she was assigned to “a military uniform sweatshop” and forced to toil for 10 or more hours a day — with no bathroom breaks and only 20 minutes for lunch — slicing pieces of fabric with a rusty blade that had already claimed some of her fellow prisoners’ fingers.

Once, the power shut off for three days in winter and the temperature plummeted; she fell ill and her dreadlocks froze. She slept on a bed that was too short for her 6-foot-9 frame, her legs dangling over the end. Several prisoners befriended her, translating what the guards were saying and buoying her spirits, but often she felt defeated and despairing.

In the end, she was lucky. An army of supporters, including her wife, Cherelle; her agent; her teammates; the W.N.B.A.; and finally President Biden himself worked for her release. Sentenced to nine years in prison, she was incarcerated for 10 months before being released, swapped for the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was serving a 25-year sentence in the United States. Re-entry has been hard, and Griner movingly describes the lingering effects of her ordeal, now tempered by the news that Cherelle is expecting the couple’s first child.

Reading this sobering account, you can’t help but think about Aleksei Navalny, the Russian dissident who recently died in prison there — and about the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and other Americans still being held there and in other countries. Their names appear in a list at the end of the book."

Book Review: ‘Coming Home,’ by Brittney Griner with Michelle Burford - The New York Times

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