Every year, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People puts on the NAACP awards to honor outstanding performances in the media by people of color. The event celebrates its nominees while hosting a slew of celebrities. At this year’s awards, the crowd rose to its feet as Brittney Griner, a WNBA basketball star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, walked onto the stage. Last year, Griner was detained in Russia for nearly ten months on drug charges after officials found cannabis oil in her luggage. Griner eventually returned home as part of a prisoner swap with Russia in December of 2022. Griner’s detainment was part of a recent increase in detainment used as a political weapon by adversarial governments. At the awards, Griner and her wife, Cherelle Griner, not only thanked everyone for their support but issued a reminder that there were still Americans being detained abroad who needed to come home.
Americans detained around the world
According to the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, there are currently 60 Americans who are held hostage or are wrongfully detained abroad. One of their recent studies found that, on average, 34 Americans are wrongfully detained by foreign governments every year. This number is seventy times larger than it was a decade ago. Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia is one puzzle piece in the larger issue of wrongful detention.
Bring everyone home
The NAACP Awards was one of Griner’s first public appearances since returning home, and her presence resonated deeply with the crowd. Griner’s wife stated, “We are just truly so thankful to all the people, many of whom are Black women and Black-led organizations, who fought so hard to bring BG home.” After this expression of gratitude, Brittney Griner went on to say, “…let’s keep fighting to bring home every American still detained overseas.”
As the government worked to bring her home, Griner’s detainment was a topic in the news for months. Now that the dust has settled on the situation, Griner continues to speak out about the other Americans who are still being held abroad. She wants to ensure they are not forgotten and that work to bring them home cannot stop.
***If you are passionate about this topic, two organizations that work to bring American detainees home are Hostage Us and James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.
Brittney Griner and her wife, Cherelle, at the NAACP Awards on Feb. 25, 2023.
(Photo Credit: The Hollywood Reporter)