Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman recently shared that some of her WNBA teammates have experienced in a video by the Belgian Basketball authorities for Equality Month. The video above is in Dutch, but there are English subtitles.
In the seven-minute video, she mentioned that she would go into a supermarket with a Black teammate, wait in line to buy groceries and overhear from two white women saying, “Look who’s standing next to you, watch out for your purse.” This apparently happened to that teammate weekly.
She also mentioned that a teammate of hers lost a cousin due to a shooting by an off-duty police officer. That teammate appears to be Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who played for Washington from 2013-18. since her cousin Julian Dawkins was shot and killed by an off-duty Arlington, Va. sheriff’s deputy back in 2013 during an altercation. The deputy was charged and sentenced to six years in prison in 2014. Ruffin-Pratt wrote a column about her relationship with her cousin on SLAM Magazine last year.
Ultimately, those moments, and the Mystics’ increased activism, have made a mark on her view on life, which is why Meesseman became more open about speaking against racism.
Meesseman made it clear that Belgium isn’t a racism-free country or a utopian place though she acknowledged that being White and from a privileged class helped insulate her from things. She looked pretty upset when talking about two recent rape cases where the “rapist didn’t prosecuted.”
I couldn’t find any specific recent rape case in Belgium where a rapist wasn’t prosecuted, but there was a recent case in Ghent where two men convicted of rape were handed suspended 16 and 20 month jail terms and a €5,000 fine to be paid to the victim back in March of this year. The prosecutor’s office appealed the sentences in that case. And there was a gang rape case in Ghent last month where the 14-year old victim committed suicide soon after, but five people were prosecuted for the rape itself as well as filming it.
And as she put it simply, racism and inequality, ranging from the rapes to gay-bashing and gay murder “still happens everywhere.” This article by the New York Times gives better insight than I can on racism and race relations in Belgium.
Finally, Meesseman gave some good advice on social media, mainly that people “have to be careful with what they write.”
The Mystics have been one of the WNBA’s most vocal teams on the issue of race and justice over the past year. While players like Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins have been the most vocal, it is good to see that Meesseman is behind them and is more vocal on these issues, not just within the United States but abroad as well.