WNBA players and Naomi Osaka go on strike for Jacob Blake

August 27, 2020, 12:57 PM UTC
Washington Mystics v Atlanta Dream
PALMETTO, FLORIDA - AUGUST 26: The Atlanta Dream, Washington Mystics, Minnesota Lynx, and the Los Angeles Sparks kneel on the court after the teams collectively decided to postpone games in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake at Feld Entertainment Center on August 26, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. Several sporting leagues across the nation today are postponing their schedules as players protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin police. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Julio Aguilar—Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Women take the stage at the RNC, Vanessa Pappas becomes interim CEO of TikTok, and female athletes go on strike. Have a thoughtful Thursday.

– Athletes on strike. The sports world came to a halt last night; the bubbles professional leagues had built figuratively burst. The mass stoppage wasn’t due to the coronavirus, but outrage over another pandemic, that of racial injustice, politic brutality, and the disregard for Black lives.

It started with the Milwaukee Bucks, who decided that their NBA playoff game could not go on as their home state grappled with the police shooting in Kenosha, Wisc., of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man accompanied by his children. Blake, who was shot in the back seven times, remains in critical condition.

More NBA, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer teams joined in the strike, as did the six teams in the WNBA, a league that has led professional sports’ support of Black Lives Matter for months now, even before the police killing of George Floyd in May reignited BLM protests.

“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 hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change,” Atlanta Dream forward Elizabeth Williams said in a statement. “These moments are why it’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.”

Tennis star Naomi Osaka also took up the strike, saying she would not play in a semifinal match of the Western & Southern Open that was scheduled for today.

“Before I am an athlete, I am a black woman,” she wrote on social media Wednesday night. “[A]s a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis. I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.”

Athletes for months have tried to call attention to the crisis of racial injustice and police brutality in a restrained manner, using pointed statements and national anthem kneeling and t-shirt tributes. But the strike goes a step further. It separates entertainment from their messaging; what’s left is an exasperated plea for humanity.

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


- Women of the RNC. Last night's RNC included speeches from Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, departing White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, and President Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump. The New York Times describes the evening's female-heavy lineup as an "effort to lift Mr. Trump’s standing among women." New York Times

- An understanding interviewer. In marked contrast to the messaging going on at the RNC, The Atlantic has launched a new series in which E. Jean Carroll, the writer who alleged in her book that President Trump sexually assaulted her, is interviewing other women who say they have been assaulted or harassed by the President (Trump has denied all claims). The first piece in her series features Natasha Stoynoff, the former People magazine writer who was among the first to bring forward a claim just before the 2016 election. The Atlantic

- Gender gap. According to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, women-owned small businesses now have a less positive outlook about the year ahead. In the first quarter of this year, male business owners anticipated an increase in revenue in 2021—an expectation that has remained consistent through the pandemic. Female business owners, however, now have lower expectations than they did before the crisis. Fortune 

- One-on-ones. Two other duos in conversation to check out: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex and Gloria Steinem talk about the feminist movement's progress. And Angela Davis and Ava DuVernay reflect on the Black Lives Matter movement and Davis's legacy. 

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: TikTok's U.S. general manager Vanessa Pappas will replace former CEO Kevin Mayer as interim head of the company following Mayer's sudden resignation.


- Reporting report. The U.K. requires companies to report their gender pay gaps, although that initiative has stalled to a degree during the coronavirus downturn. Now the push to mandate large companies do the same for their racial pay gaps is receiving renewed attention. New York Times

- Immune boosters. Why do women, when infected with COVID-19, seem to fare better than men? A new study finds that women produce a stronger immune response to the virus. And why do school-age boys seem to be weathering social isolation better than girls in their age bracket? Socialization while playing video games is one hypothesis.  

- Recording history. Ancestry, led by CEO Margo Georgiadis, promised yesterday that records related to the Holocaust will be free on its platform through a partnership with the U.S.C. Shoah Foundation. The rollout of the initiative encountered some hurdles, including descendants of Holocaust victims and survivors who felt uncomfortable with the level of publicly available information. New York Times ˇ


Chatting with the feminist icon I played on TV The Cut

Black women are topping bestseller lists. What took so long? Elle

GOP women in Arizona could decide an unexpected 2020 battle New York Times

Yale Law professor Jed Rubenfeld has been suspended for sexual harassment New York Magazine


"It's like dating a guy that you know sucks."

-Serena Williams on relinquishing a lead in the Western & Southern Open

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