Sophia and Caroline present the first official episode of Forward Progress, discussing the use of pronouns, social justice initiatives that have become more prevalent in the sports landscape (especially in the WNBA), and more! A full transcript of this episode can be found below!
NOTE: A link to register to vote can be found in the transcript below, but you can also click here.
Sophia: Take a million.
Sophia & Caroline: This is Forward Progress.
S: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the first official episode of Forward Progress. My name is Sophia Lewin and my pronouns are she/ her and they/ them.
C: I‘m Caroline Mattise and my pronouns are she her my. So we just listed our pronouns. That is something that is not typical in society or society. Yeah. OK, so let’s just give a little rundown of the importance of knowing someone’s pronouns, using the correct pronouns and what that all means.
S: I think it’s important. So first off, how I understand it. So obviously everyone’s going to have a different understanding of using pronouns or what that even means and why it would be important everyone. I think the reason why it’s not mainstream is because everyone just assumes. Right. So you and I look like women, whatever that means on our bios or just in life, like we look like women and we are. And so people might assume that our pronouns or how you would refer to us would be by our names and then also using she and her and hers. But that’s not always the case. And I think it’s something really, really simple that a lot of people can gloss over. And it’s just a really way to make it more inclusive of an environment for everybody. If you’re referring to everybody in a room by all or people, or using things that don’t immediately gender them.
And I just think that how I learned about pronouns was through being a meeting with a bunch of clubs and the first person who was running that massive meeting just introduced themselves and they said, hi, my name is Krista, my pronouns are she/ her. And we were going around the room and saying what our pronouns were. And just as a person who had never done that before in any other space, I kind of felt I understood what it meant and where we were doing and followed along and introduced myself as such. And then it was just one of those things where I’m like, Oh, I don’t know enough about this. And I got curious about it and want to learn. And it’s just it’s a way to make sure that people are included in the conversation and that we’re not making assumptions about each other as people. It’s just a way to acknowledge our shared humanity.
C: But even what Layshia Clarendon was saying in her podcast with Kate Fagan, now, that might be something that is important, but she hopes that in the future, her kids don’t even think about that. They’re like, Mom, why? Why would you why would I say that? That’s so stupid. Twenty years down the road, hopefully it’s something further ahead.
C: Well, we’re talking about today with the action and what the season means for the WNBA.
S: Yes. So this season is being dedicated to Breonna Taylor. They put Breonna Taylor’s name on their door, every single one of their jerseys across league. And then also they’re telling a story of a black woman who has been victimized by police brutality and they’re honoring her name and her story and her life every week. So every week is like a different person
S: And tell their story to have an image that’s posted or projected on a screen. And they kind of have moments of silence and they kneel or they put a fist up or whatever their collective action is, sometimes their arm in arm. And so they’ve been doing that.
And obviously, last night was the first night where the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks, decided they’re going to walk out and not play. And the WNBA recognized their brothers in the NBA and said, yeah, we want to do this as sisters in the pro basketball scene in America. So we’re going to do this and we’re not going to play it. And then the MLB also did the same thing. Naomi Osaka, who we’ll talk about later, she said she wouldn’t play.
So there was like it was kind of like a ripple effect after the Milwaukee Bucks decided they’re not going to play.
C: So why don’t you talk a little bit more about the campaign itself.
S: So the Say Her Name campaign was started back in 2014 by Professor Kimberle Crenshaw, who also coined the term intersectionality as it relates to feminism– intersections of multiple minority groups. And that idea or that concept, that term really was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw decades ago, and now she’s used that to also start to Say Her Name campaign and Say Her Name campaign is because the names of women are often not remembered.
When you’re talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, you remember names like Michael Brown and George Floyd and Philando Castiel. Are we remembering Michelle Couso and Remy Fells and Brianna Taylor? And are we remembering their names? Because it’s the women that are often not at the forefront of this movement. Black women are also brutalized by the police and their names are often not spoken. The mothers of black women have to bring their bodies down to city hall for them to get attention. That was the first woman who, she died after massive attention from a couple of days before because a black man had died and zero attention on black woman who experienced a very similar thing at the hands of police. So just understanding that.
C: And I think it’s so powerful with the WNBA because eighty five percent of the league is made up of black women.
S: It’s like 80 percent black women. Their leadership and their players association is largely black women. It’s Nneka Ogwumike, it’s Layshia Clarendon, it’s Elizabeth Williams. I mean, so many black women are speaking out and standing up. And what’s so impressive to me about the WNBA in this moment is their unity. They’re completely unified as teams.
C: Right, because in previous seasons, although they did lead social justice initiatives in pro sports, it was players for the Minnesota Lynx, Maya Moore really starting and sparking that conversation. And that was and she’s a and she’s a whole ‘nother piece because she gave up her season in order to work towards social justice.
S: Right. And releasing opinions and believing that he was wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. And, you know, obviously this year was very emotional because that was overturned in the court and he was released. He was found not guilty of that crime. And so the actual work that she was doing and I saw a tweet earlier from I believe it was Robinson that said my more knew the ball should stop dribbling.
C: So today is night two of no women’s basketball.
S: The WNBA has made it very clear that this is not a strike, it’s not a boycott, it’s a time for reflection. And they had a conversation. And all the teams on the court, the mystics were actually in shirts where each of the players spelled out Jacob Blake one letter at a time on the and on the back of their shirts, they painted these bloody bullet holes, seven of them in the back, and they all locked arms at center court. They raised their fists. They knelt and they didn’t play. But not only did they not play, they made statements. Elizabeth Williams made a statement.
Elizabeth Williams: After speaking with representatives from teams playing tonight as well as the WNBA leadership. The consensus is to not play in tonight’s slate of games and to nail lock arms and raise fists during the national anthem. We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA and we’ll continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues and look to take collective action. What we have seen over the last few months and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake is overwhelming. And while we heard from Jacob in his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change. These moments are what’s important for our fans to stay focused, hear our voices, know our hearts, and connect the dots from what we say to what we do.
We encourage everyone to go and register to vote now today, if you truly believe that black lives matter, then vote, go and complete the 2020 census. Now, don’t wait. If we wait, we don’t make change. It matters. Your voice matters. Your vote matters. Do all you can to demand that your leaders stop with the empty words and do something. This is the reason for the 2020 season it is in our DNA, we have been saying her name. We are listing the names of black and brown women whose murders have been forgotten. We will continue to use our platform to speak of these injustices that are still happening and demand action for change. Black lives matter. Say her name, say his name. Tonight we stand and while we have heavy hearts, we stand with strong and determined voices and ask all our fans to vote, to engage and to make that difference.
S: Nneka Ogwumike, the president of the WNBA Players Association, spoke.
Nneka Ogwumike: You know, I’ve had the pleasure of developing a relationship with her since she’s hopped on board and having those conversations with her. It just kind of it takes me back to, you know, how we developed a relationship, obviously, during negotiations and negotiating this bubble. At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. And I think that that’s really what I always lean on to and hang onto.
And so for me to be able to first of all, I’m very grateful that Cathy is here to be able to flesh out these types of situations with her. It’s incredibly important, but also in real time for us to truly experience the sentiments and the passion and what’s important to the players and what we continue to demonstrate to be important. And Cathy is certainly an advocate for us. And I can see that moving forward, we’re going to be in more conversations to figure out how we can continue to have an impact on and off the court.
S: Which is so cool, because I think it’s important to talk about Kathy and Gober, the commission of the WNBA is one hundred percent behind the players, 100 percent. Nneka talks about how they work together in the CBA and build a relationship. That’s how they were able to talk about the ways that they were going to take collective action over the next couple days as far as not playing, but more than not playing, putting out statements and making sure that fans and anybody watching the WNBA can know how they can make change or what things that they can do, actionable items, action steps towards equality and racial justice, and to make sure that we’re practicing intersectionality in the best ways that we possibly can.
NFL player Malcolm Jenkins, of the New Orleans Saints tweeted, Until Black Lives Matter is actually realized in the streets, we won’t see any peace. We’ll continue to see athletes, entertainers as well as citizens disrupt the status quo until it’s recognized. And I love that because, I mean, I’ve watched a ton of interviews that Megan Rapinoe has been doing and she is always mentioning disrupting the status quo. Absolutely disrupting the status quo, reimagining.
C: Yeah, that’s all the that re-inc is about. One of the companies that she is a co-owner of is all about.
S: I loved hearing Coach Lawson of Duke Women’s Basketball talk about it, this fight against racism at a systemic level and everywhere else. It’s going to take a long time. This isn’t it. Oh, here’s a list of 10 things. This is how we fix this problem. Elle Duncan brought it up. The last time an NBA game was not played was Bill Russell back in 1961 over the same issue. That was pre-Civil Rights Act, Pre-Voting Rights Act, Pre-Barack Obama, so many different things. And we’re still here. We’re still talking about it. And one, I will say it is so brave for the WNBA players to stand together as women of all backgrounds to say that this is not good enough.
C: What do we want our call to action to be for our listeners?
S: We’re going to put a link in the description of this podcast for you to register to vote. If you’ve already registered to vote, double check that you have the right address, that you have everything right because some people might have old addresses. Send it in early, send it in early vote, early vote. Vote Warnock if you’re in Georgia. Follow these women.
S: Follow Nneka Ogwumike.
C: Ok, so go into that.
S: I mean everything. She’s the person that I’ve looked to most during this time because she’s so poised. She says everything that I can’t necessarily say in that moment. She’s the president of the WNBA Players Association. She worked to negotiate the amazing CBA, also known as collective bargaining agreement. She graduated from Stanford University. Who did you want to shout out? Because we’re shouting out, right?
C: So each episode, we’re both going to introduce an athlete that we think you should watch, follow, know about. In order to be a well-rounded sports fan. Ok, so then I want to mention Naomi Osaka. She was born in Japan but has lived in the United States. Her mother is Japanese and her father is Haitian. She’s a tennis player. She’s chosen to play tennis representing her birth country of Japan. She has two grand slam titles, the 2018 US Open, where she faced off against Serena Williams and then the 2019 Australian Open.
So Naomi Osaka has been a big supporter of the WNBA and a big supporter of the recent protests and social justice movements. After the death of George Floyd, she went to Minnesota to be a part of the protests. She was supposed to play in a semi finals match of a lead up tournament to the US Open. And before the match, she released a statement saying, Before, I am an athlete, I’m a black woman, and as a black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need it immediate attention rather than watching me play tennis. An amazing tennis player and certainly someone to look out for in the upcoming US Open.
C: All right, so for our future podcasts, and when we get some guests on here, we want to have a few things at the end. So I have two questions.
C: One, what is the composition of your ideal ice cream sandwich?
S: What’s the second question?
C: We’ll get to it after you answer the first one.
S: I‘m eager. Ideal ice cream sandwich. So the two cookies, which would be like the bread of the sandwich.
C: What if you had two different cookies?
S: That’s too many flavors.
C: I feel like someone’s going to ask that and we’re going to be like, no.
S: OK, my cookie is going to be chocolate chip and then ice cream in the middle is going to be I was going to say, is that Oreo earlier? I’m going to say Oreo ice cream in the middle and then chocolate chip buns.
C: I hate that you said that. Ok, I know I’ve had some good ones.
S: You came up with like six in the car. Are you going white chocolate chip?
C: Ok, that is also very good. I love a good white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies.
S: It’s a lot.
C: It’s the title is Long, but the flavor is one of the best ice cream sandwiches I’ve had was lemon sugar cookies with vanilla ice cream.
C: All right, second question. What is a sport that you wish you knew about or saw when you were growing up?
S: Sled hockey. That is the first thing that came to mind.
C: When you said that, though, I thought of the underwater hockey.
S: So, anyway, those that don’t know what sled hockey is, it’s hockey except with a sled.
C: Ok. Right. Which only has a single blade on the bottom. We’ll put a sample from the Olympic Games because in the film Change Games, the men’s hockey team won gold.
S: They did. Yeah. I wish I was a hockey player. I definitely wish I could do that. What sport would you want to do?
C: OK, so my answer would be water polo. So I recently this summer have watched YouTube tutorials on how to eggbeater, which is how the motion they move their legs in to stay afloat. And I cannot do it. But those athletes are incredibly strong.
S: This is different than treading water.
C: They have to basically jump out of the water from treading water, especially the goalies.
S: Cool. That’s cool.
C: Yeah, but hard, I can’t do it.
S: I loved being able to watch the US Women’s team.
C: In the Olympics that women’s water polo has been present. The US women’s national team has medaled.
S: Let’s goooo.
S: I feel like not enough people know about that.
C: Do you have anything else to say. Get off the phone!
S: Sorry, I’m looking at Nneka Ogwumike.
C: Thank you for listening to our first full episode of Forward Progress.
S: We had so much fun and we hope you listen to the next episode where we’re definitely going to have a guest and you’ll never guess who.
C: That’s because we don’t actually know who it will be. We have no idea.
C: Remember and the transcription of this podcast, we will have a link for more information on registration and voting so you can make sure that all of your information is correct. Also, remember that…
S: Black Lives Matter.
C: Yes. Black Lives Matter.
S: Follow Nneka Ogwumike and Naomi Osaka, thanks for joining us.
C: We’ll talk to you next time.
C: Forward Progress is produced by Caroline Mattise with a little help from Sophia Lewin and is brought to you by Best Available Player, find more podcasts, articles and video content related to sports and entertainment on bestavailableplayer.com. All the music in this podcast is by James Barrett, a good friend and an even better musician. Be sure to check him out on your favorite music streaming platform. And because we’re all about exclusivity and accessibility for each podcast support, progress will be transcribed and available on bestavailableplayer.com.