Ahead of Game 3 of the Las Vegas Aces’ Semifinals series against the Connecticut Sun Thursday night, A’ja Wilson spoke to the media. During this press availability, the league’s MVP chose to highlight her response to yesterday’s news that the police who killed Breonna Taylor’s death would not be charged. Wilson’s remarks on the decision, and the emotional reality of being a young black woman in America, follow.
A’ja Wilson: Um…how am I doing…you know, I’ve been better. I’m not gonna sit here and say that everything’s been happy-go-lucky, or that I feel great. I feel good enough to play basketball and be elite at it…Mentally, I’m locked into what needs to be done with this team. But also, I’m locked into my community, and the things that are going on around me in this world. It’s tough. I am drained in some cases. But at the same time, I decided to be a professional athlete. And I do what I need to get the job done for my team, but also, for the people who look up to me. Also, for the little black girls that are watching me on TV always.
So those are my key things emotionally: I am heartbroken, I am angry. But then, at the same time, I can’t be angry at this because I saw it comin’. There’s no surprise, the element of surprise is out of my mind at this point. I’m disgusted, I’ll say that, I really am. And I hate that Breonna Taylor didn’t get justice. I don’t even know who said it, but it’s like a slap on the wrist. And when I read [the news about the decision] it just felt like…It’s nothing. No one cares. And that’s the thing that does not sit right with me, is when will people care, and understand that this is a human rights thing. ‘Black Lives Matter’ isn’t this big thing that’s like, oh, taking money. It’s a statement. It is a life that I live. I am a black woman. You take everything that I’ve earned away from me, and I am a black woman. I fear for my life, I fear for my family, and it’s tough. I can’t even express how tough it is. I can’t even express how disgusted I am.
But this does not stop the fight. I will never stop my fight. This is making me want to push through even more because black women deserve so much better than what is going on right now. It lights a fire in my ass to continue to do what I need to do, do what needs to get done and push through this outside of the bubble, once these couple of weeks are up.
PP: Hi A’ja, I just wanted to tell you that I’m one of those little black girls, looking up to you. The news of no-arrests, of the cops that killed Breonna Taylor, is really hard for little black girls, like me, to hear. So what message would you give to kids like me who are confused, and sad, and angry?
AW: Oh Pepper you got me tearing up. My message is to keep fighting. We can not stop fighting at all, for young girls like Pepper, for young girls like myself. This fight does not end, it gets harder as you get older, Pepper. I hate that you even have to think about going through it. But it is people like me, the generation and myself that is going to help fight this fight alongside you and I hate that you have to fight it at such a young age but this is the world that we live in. I am going to make sure that you don’t ever have to live through this as hard as we live through it right now. When you get older I hope that there is a change that you don’t have to continue to write about, to be the awesome journalist that you are, but we need a lot more people like you in the world Pepper. My thing is just to dream big and don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something, that you are incapable, unqualified, to do something just because of the color of your skin. Keep the fight and you’re not in it alone.
On the moment she heard the news about the decision to not charge the officers:
AW: We were just getting out of practice when I checked my phone and scrolled through it and it was just a matter of disgust. Something just did not sit right in my stomach and I knew this coming in when they started locking down the city and barricades were going up. The fact that you had to do all of that goes to show that you know everybody’s about to be unhappy, you know something is about to happen. So that’s when it hit me when they started leaking out that they’re doing all of that in Louisville. Once it got out, something did not sit right in my stomach and my mom texted me and just made sure that I was ok. I’m like, “are you ok?” and it’s a point where people think about and remember exactly where they were when 9/11 happened and when other things happen.
But this is my 9/11, I was too young, I was in preschool, and that’s all I know for 9/11. But this here, this will be something I remember all the time because Breonna Taylor was asleep, she didn’t know anything, you’re asleep. I have to fear for my life as a black women, whether I’m asleep or I’m awake or I’m walking down the street. It does not matter and that will never sit right with me. The justice was not served and that is something that broke my heart. I was heartbroken, I was disgusted, and I couldn’t even speak out on it because it is just so hard to take in, and I can only imagine their family. My biggest thing with things like this is I go and I pray for my well being and also the families that have to go through this. It’s the families that leave that courthouse and know that justice was not served. Her daughter, sister, or girlfriend I couldn’t even imagine that so I always have to just pray for the best.
On fighting to change a system that largely protects itself from its own mistakes:
AW: I’m all for it. I don’t know if we can, or if it will, but that’s the biggest thing, and that’s how it is. It’s the system, the system doesn’t work for us, and I say us as people of color. It’s not written up to work for us, it never was. But, now is our time to try to change it. So that young girls like Pepper don’t have to go through the system. The system’s changing, and that’s what we need. And it’s so tough, and I know I say this every time, change does not happen overnight. But it’s up to us to have to plant these seeds, to continue to say her name and not let up. Because now is the time when people gonna decompress, and be like, “Well, we tried it. And this is what happens.” No. We can not let up. We will continue to say her name.
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This was a collaborative article written by Sports Are From Venus’s Dani Bar-Lavi and Zachary Diamond.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)