WNBA player Natasha Cloud, who is a member of the Washington Mystics team, has spent the past several weeks using her voice for change. She wrote an article on ‘The Players’ Tribune’ titled ‘Your Silence is a Knee on My Neck.’ Her piece details what is ever present on her mind these days as a “black person in America” which is the fear for her life. She talks about how being “neutral” on the matter of black lives is effectively murder. Cloud explained why she felt it necessary to use her voice and platform saying, “It’s to tell them that ‘seeing both sides’ means having blood on their [neutral people] hands – ‘opting out’ means leaving innocent people to die.” She felt so passionately about the Black Lives Matter movement that she made the decision to sit out of the 2020 WNBA season to focus on fighting for social justice.
“There are a lot of factors that led to this decision [to opt-out], but the biggest one is that I am more than an athlete,” Cloud stated. “I have a responsibility to myself, to my community and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball. I will instead continue the fight for social reform, because until Black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”
In doing so she forfeited her salary.
As a member of the 2019 WNBA Championship winning team, Cloud has had a lot to celebrate. She became the very first woman to join the Converse Hoops’ squad. The deal has sentimental ties, as Cloud’s father, whose favorite basketball player was Julius Erving who famously wore Converse sneaks on the court, still wears a pair of Converse shoes everyday. “I get choked up when I talk about it,” Cloud said when speaking about her Converse endorsement deal. “[Me and my dad’s] relationship is something that’s really important to me. It’s been something that has grounded me.”
The announcement of her joining the Converse family was put on the back burner as she dove deeper into community organizing and protesting. Converse has been understanding and even in the face of her decision to opt-out this season the company stepped in to pay Cloud the salary she forfeited.
Converse released a statement:
“Converse has immense respect for Natasha Cloud’s decision to forgo the WNBA season. These systemic racial justice issues are bigger than basketball. To be able to put her career and passion on hold in order to devote her energy, voice and platform to change demonstrates her integrity and strength. We are proud to have her on the Converse team, are humbled to match her forfeited players salary and look forward to working together with Natasha on these issues as well as supporting her vision in this space.”
Cloud expressed her excitement as a new member of the Converse family saying, “Converse is so amazing. I knew immediately when I signed with them that this was a family atmosphere and that they cared about me. Not only what I do on the court, but who I am off the court.”
Cloud went on to say of the salary matching, “I wasn’t expecting it, I knew the financial burden that I was taking on. My Converse family understands this is bigger than basketball and they want to support me in any facet and they wanted to make sure that me and my family are okay during this time. It’s huge.”