How Brittney Griner's Verdict Has Brutally Divided Social Media

On August 4, as Yahoo! News reported, WNBA star Brittney Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison. Griner had been held in detention in Russia for several weeks by that point after she allegedly tried to enter the country carrying cannabis oil in her luggage.

Whether or not this will be the final development in the case is far from clear, as of this writing. Her attorneys announced their intent to file an appeal. As Bloomberg reported, the Biden administration had been working with Russia on a possible prisoner swap, with Griner and American Paul Whelan purportedly being offered up in exchange for Russian oligarch Viktor Bout. However, reports at the time seemed to indicate that that deal was off the table.

For now, it appears as if Griner is going to spend the next nine years of her life in a Russian prison. Meanwhile, on social media, the athlete is getting a mix of sympathy and hostility, with some users suggesting she was the victim of overzealous Russian law enforcement — as well as being a pawn in souring U.S.-Russian relations — while others asserting she got what she deserved.

Team Griner

If Twitter posts are any indication, Griner has plenty of supporters who are convinced that this was simply the result of Russia trying to make an example of an American. One user, for example, called the entire thing political theater. "The Russians are not concerned about justice. It's all about political theatre," they tweeted. "So so sad that she has the burden of a geopolitical chess game," tweeted another.

Another user suggested that there was a racial component to Griner's ordeal, or at least, to the reaction to her ordeal, tweeting, "Let me save you from reading the brainlet comments below: People gullible enough to think that she wasn't set up and hate black women. There," they wrote. Another user suggested, perhaps with tongue planted in cheek, that Brittney, as a Black woman, is actually better off in Russia than in the U.S. "I'm sure shes [sic] very grateful she doesn't have to come back to Amerikkka," the user tweeted.

Team Too Bad

A separate camp on social media seems to be of the opinion that Griner got exactly what she deserved, and that she has no one to blame but herself for violating a foreign country's laws. "Don't be smoking weed in Russia," tweeted one user. "Play stupid games, win stupid prizes," wrote another. Other users were quick to point out that, though her legal problems have arisen in Russia, in certain parts of the U.S. a Black woman trying to carry cannabis derivatives through an airport could also result in a lengthy prison sentence. "Same thing would happen if she was in USA," tweeted a user.

Within the anti-Griner camp are users who have been quick to point to a series of incidents in which, as The Washington Post reported in 2020, she announced that she would stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem, and even suggesting that the national anthem shouldn't be played at WNBA games. "Betcha wish you could kneel for the flag now huh?," tweeted one user. "She wasn't thankful to be an American months ago. She can be thankful for Russian freedoms now," tweeted another.