By Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon

What Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon was THINKing about this week after she wrote: 
Trump fans need to keep Brittney Griner’s name out of their mouths

With my THINK piece, I wanted to force into the light the disturbing online vitriol I continued to see as Americans learned more about Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia. Admittedly, I was unprepared for the conservative and anti-women’s sports backlash.

Perpetually the academic, I realized that the hatred launched at me was the same thrown at Griner — claims that we’re ungrateful Black women with unearned prestige, all spewed with a “you get what you deserve” energy. I stand at a unique intersection of identity and experience, an intersection reflected by my analysis. I’m a Black woman, a born and raised Texan and an expert on race in Russia and the Soviet Union. Initially, I followed American and Russian public discussion and media coverage regarding Griner’s case out of concern for her well-being. Now, I’m following with the additional worry about its impact on American discourse.

This harmful narrative has focused on Griner’s identity as a Black lesbian and tried to attach “drug-user” and “criminal” as additional adjectives — the same ones attached to Black teenagers and adults killed by police officers. These attempts to criminalize a Black American woman are all variations from the same symphony of misogyny and racism — the soundtrack to contemporary American politics.

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Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon is a Ph.D. student and Penn Presidential PhD Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. She tweets @ksvarnon.