The Liberty’s Role in Making W.N.B.A. Players ‘Top Dogs’ of Activism

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“He’s a year older than me, he’s 6’8,” strong — he could be seen as a threat,” Stokes said. “They asked, ‘Will you be OK with that?’ That just kind of hit home. He’s goofy, funny, just wants to joke and have fun, but in the eyes of someone else he could be really intimidating just because of his physical appearance and that’s something scary to think about.”

Allen was raised in Melbourne, Australia, and an injury during her rookie season limited her time in the United States to about one month. The 2016 season was her second year in the league, and she mostly listened as Cash and other veterans like Tanisha Wright led locker room discussions about race in America.

Later in July 2016, during a team meeting in Washington, Allen finally spoke up, which she now somewhat regrets.

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The Liberty were discussing continuing the protests during warm-ups. Allen, as a second-year player, was feeling the strain of being fined. According to the collective bargaining agreement at the time, a player like Allen would have had a minimum salary of $39,676 for the W.N.B.A season.

“I said I want to support, but I financially can’t handle this hit every game,” Allen said. “Me having to make that comment and being white, that was something extremely emotional for me. I of course believe in everything you’re saying, I of course am standing with you, but the financial repercussions, it was really big and that was the difficulty of not having the league support it in that moment.”

Wright, then in her 12th W.N.B.A. season, told Allen that the veterans would cover the younger players’ fines.

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