Even From Outside the WNBA Wubble, Natasha Cloud Is a Force of Conscience

Feature image via Natasha Cloud’s Instagram

Natasha Cloud — WNBA champion, outspoken advocate for Black liberation, noted and proud bisexual — is not in the Wubble this year. The Mystics guard chose to sit out the 2020 season in order to be in the fight for racial justice and because, as she told The Athletic, “I can’t compartmentalize having the luxury of dribbling a basketball while people who look like me are being shot and killed every single day, many by the hands of police.”

But despite the fact that Cloud isn’t in Bradenton, Florida with the rest of her team doesn’t mean that her heart, her spirit, and her conscience isn’t present in the Mystics locker room. She may not be there to lead them on the court, but she’s absolutely a part of their protests and decision-making this season. On a watershed day in the history of sports activism, where athletes from the NBA to the WNBA to MLB to MLS to tennis decided to withhold their labor and entertainment to protest the ongoing oppression and racist violence Black people face in America, Cloud was there with the W every step of the way.

Cloud is a well-respected presence on the Mystics and a known activist in her community. In 2017, when the first wave of WNBA protests related to police violence began, Cloud had a hand in organizing the media blackout in the Mystics locker room. She’s advocated for stricter gun laws and fought against gun violence in D.C. with her own media blackout in 2019. She helped organize a Juneteenth march this summer alongside the Washington Wizards. And she’s supporting and guiding her team from afar as they push for change and use their platform to take a stand.

“I texted Ariel [Atkins] yesterday and I said, ‘Have you talked to the team about sitting today out?’ And she said, ‘No, we haven’t talked about it. We made T-shirts. We have statements.’ And I said, ‘I challenge you to think about sitting out,’” she told The Athletic. “I reiterated to the team that whether we like it or not, we inherit a responsibility as athletes to use our platform, to use our voices and to use them drastically, especially when the leadership of our country is unfit.”

When Ariel Atkins spoke to ESPN after the Mystics decided they would not play—and the rest of the league joined them— and she told the world, “We’re not just basketball players. And if you think we are, don’t watch us. You’re watching the wrong sport because we’re so much more than that,” it was “all Ariel,” like Cloud said. But part of Atkins’ transformation from shy kid who was afraid to talk to veterans when she entered the league two years ago to outspoken advocate for social change came from having people like Cloud standing behind her and encouraging her to do it.

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Make no mistake: just because Cloud isn’t on the court doesn’t mean she’s sitting anything out. She’s on the phone with her team, supporting them loudly on Twitter, and mentoring the next generation of leaders in the Mystics locker room—like Atkins and Myisha Hines-Allen—by showing them the way and letting them step into the role the moment calls for.

This week’s gay WNBA news

Brittney Griner left the Wubble for personal reasons so there will be no more cute couples’ content from Brittney and Cherelle in the Wubble. Wishing Brittney the best!

Layshia Clarendon read a passage from Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” during the WNBA’s candlelight vigil following the cancellation of Wednesday night’s games.

Marta Xargay wished Breanna Stewart the happiest of birthdays

And the New York Liberty’s Black Trans Lives Matter shirts are now for sale! Buy yours here.

Britni is a freelance writer whose work sits at the intersection of sports, gender, & queerness. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Vogue, The Atlantic, Vox, and many more.

Britni has written 11 articles for us.

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