Brianna Turner has a unique lens in viewing the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others. Her parents, Howard and Kellye, are both in law enforcement. They work and live in Houston, where Floyd was raised. And she is black.
The Phoenix Mercury forward has been vocal on Twitter and in interviews since Floyd died by homicide while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. And on Monday, she spoke with ESPN’s “SportsCenter” about accountability, the importance of talking about race and the heartbreaking reality to why she’s becoming more of an active voice.
Turner: we need accountability, training
Turner, who won the 2018 national championship with Notre Dame, expanded those thoughts in for “SportsCenter” and said police brutality has been a conversation in her household since she was young.
The daughter of parents in law enforcement, @_Breezy_Briii emphasizes accountability to eliminate police brutality and talks about why she’s pursuing a leadership role after George Floyd’s death.— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) June 1, 2020
Thanks to @espn for giving her voice a platform this morning. pic.twitter.com/ve3yX2yzwW
A portion of Turner’s interview on what discussions she had at home on police brutality:
“Talking about it in general. Why does it keep happening? Why is it happening all across our country? Is it an issue with the training? Is it an issue with maybe racial bias? Obviously, there are a lot of factors at play here. So just obviously I’m in a different position than a lot of people. I lived in a house with two law enforcement officers, so it’s definitely good to hear their side and obviously hearing my perspective. I see a lot of stuff on social media, and they’re literally living through it on the opposite side. I think it’s good to get both those perspectives.”
Turner worried about father off-duty
Athletes are speaking out about police brutality and their own fears as black men and women in America. Retired WNBA star and current New Orleans Pelicans vice president of basketball operations Swin Cash shared a powerful message on Monday night.
“As an African-American woman with a young son, I’m not asking more for my son than your son ... I need your help to make this country better,” she told NBA on TNT’s Ernie Johnson.
In a thread on Twitter, Turner noted that even though her 6-foot-6 father is a police officer, she worries about him when he’s off-duty.
...racial injustice within this country. My parents are black AND police officers. Off-Duty though I do worry about my dad. He’s a 6’6 dark skin black guy, no different looking than how people would physically describe #GeorgeFloyd People don’t know he’s an officer...— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) May 31, 2020
... people don’t know his wife is an officer, people don’t know his daughter is a professional athlete. Not only do I have to worry about him on duty, I worry what people think off-duty as well when he is out by himself. I say this to say being against...— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) May 31, 2020
...police brutality does not make you anti-police. I’m for police departments holding one another accountable, I’m for better racial bias training, I’m for better training in engaging with protestors. I’m not for fearing for my parents lives on and off the clock...— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) May 31, 2020
...So this is why I speak out, bc I care. Because I want better. Because I’m tired the same scenarios replaying in this country. I don’t want for police brutality to feel normal. I don’t want racial injustice to be America’s tag line. Im tired of all of it & I hope you are too.— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) May 31, 2020
What next? Turner advises we talk about racism
Turner, 23, advised everyone to speak openly about police brutality, the deaths of black individuals in police custody and racism in general.
Speak about George Floyd’s horrendous murder. Acknowledge America’s history of racial inequity. Realize the color of one’s skin can influence how their treated in certain scenarios. Don’t feel uncomfortable having a dialogue about how we can reach racial equality in this country.— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) June 1, 2020
She told “SportsCenter”:
“We need to be able to talk about racism without it making [us feel] uncomfortable. Talking about race should not make you feel like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I should talk about it.’ Or, ‘Oh, it’s not my place.’ It’s everyone’s place to talk about this. This has to do with equality. It shouldn’t make you uncomfortable to talk about what’s equality.”
She urged people to write to their local mayor, defense attorney, police chief and other officials to ask about their policies. Are they holding others accountable? What are they doing so that police brutality doesn’t happen in your local community? In an interview with Forbes, she stressed dialogue instead of “I stand for this, you stand for that.”
Why speak out now? The new reality
Turner is one of the thousands of young people getting involved and her reasoning shines light on what young people now grow up used to. She told Forbes:
“At this point, it’s normal. Should I be 23 and feel like it’s normal for these injustices to be happening? No. Should I be 23 and feel like it’s normal for school shootings to be happening? No. But that’s how I grew up. I grew up at a time when schools are going to get shot up by kids. There’s going to be racial injustice. People are going to die at the hands of cops, unlawfully. That’s just the time I live in. That’s pretty much all I’ve known for the latter part of my life. Do I hope it’ll change? Yes. Will it change? I don’t know. Obviously, time will tell.”
Turner was born in July 1996 and not yet turned 3 at the time of the Columbine shooting in April 1999. It was her freshman year, in 2014-15, that the Notre Dame women’s basketball team wore “I can’t breathe” T-shirts and the community alleged the women were anti-law enforcement.
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