Growing up as a young black girl, I always felt that I could never totally be free. There were so many things that I encountered that didn’t give me a sense of freedom. Whether it was the relaxer that was clumped on my head to make it more manageable and appealing, the extreme prejudice I felt due to the color of my skin. The nonacceptance of not being “lady like” and wanting to play basketball and being made fun of for always playing with the boys stung.My nerdy glasses, above average height and awkward looks saddled me with insecurity and left me feeling discomfort in my own skin.
Growing up in the South meant racism was a part of life. A undeniable reality that you just had to work through and move past. The subtle discrimination from whites, and the scrutiny from my own race made me feel I didn’t quite belong anywhere. My people said I talked white but to me I talked like me. White people said I didn’t act black and I wanted to tell them that there was no script for being black. I didn’t have to act black I was black. I was also a preacher’s kid ridiculed when I did the so called “wrong things”.
Feeling the burden of growing up with a microscope on my faults or mistakes, I never totally felt physically and mentally free until I stepped on the basketball court. This was my sanctuary and for two hours I would immerse myself in what total freedom feels like. I was blessed to continue to experience that sense of freedom in college and in the pros’. My transition after retirement was very challenging because I was searching for that sense of serenity and freedom within myself and my next career. But it was difficult to replicate, leaving me feeling intensely lonely and unfulfilled in which only my Faith in God helped me get through.
The void left in my life post retirement enables me to truly relate to what Bilqis speaks of in her video. Her journey to find herself and experience her precious freedom again struck a familiar chord in my heart.
I’m writing this blog for Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir who will not have the opportunity to go overseas and experience that sense of freedom anymore because of her Faith, and Fiba’s ban on players wearing the Hijab #FIBAAllowHijab This young lady’s story inspired me because she chose not to conform her beliefs for the sport she so passionately loves.
When I think about my own faith and how much I loved the game, I’m not sure what decision I would have made at her age. This is why I was compelled to show my support. I want to present a call to action to all my followers and fans to retweet and share this video to your social media platforms and help bring visibility to Bilqis as she shares her story and challenges the system that is currently denying her what she holds so dear.
Let’s show FIBA, who will hold a hearing on whether to lift this ban on January 27th that the rule should be changed. Let’s help Bilqis and other future Muslim female basketball players get the opportunity to experience that freedom and share their talent with the world, without having to give up her faith.
Please watch the video