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Chasity Melvin

From A Player's Perspective

Freedom to Play #FIBAAllowHijab

Growing up as a young black girl, I always felt that I could never totally be free. There were so many things that I encountered that didn't give me a sense of freedom. Whether it was the relaxer that was clumped on my head to make it more manageable and appealing, the extreme prejudice I felt due to the color of my skin. The nonacceptance of not being "lady like" and wanting to play basketball and being made fun of for always playing with the boys stung.My nerdy glasses, above average height and awkward looks saddled me with insecurity and left me feeling discomfort in my own skin.

Growing up in the South meant racism was a part of life. A undeniable reality that you just had to work through and move past. The subtle discrimination from whites, and the scrutiny from my own race made me feel I didn't quite belong anywhere. My people said I talked white but to me I talked like me. White people said I didn't act black and I wanted to tell them that there was no script for being black. I didn't have to act black I was black. I was also a preacher's kid ridiculed when I did the so called "wrong things". remove photo

Feeling the burden of growing up with a microscope on my faults or mistakes, I never totally felt physically and mentally free until I stepped on the basketball court. This was my sanctuary and for two hours I would immerse myself in what total freedom feels like. I was blessed to continue to experience that sense of freedom in college and in the pros'. My transition after retirement was very challenging because I was searching for that sense of serenity and freedom within myself and my next career, but it was difficult to replicate, and my Faith is what helped me during those times. The void left in my life post retirement enables me to truly relate to what Bilqis speaks of in her video. Her journey to find herself and experience her precious freedom again struck a familiar chord in my heart.

I'm writing this blog for Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir who will not have the opportunity to go overseas and experience that sense of freedom anymore because of her Faith, and Fiba's ban on players wearing the Hijab #FIBAAllowHijab This young lady's story inspired me because she chose not to conform her beliefs for the sport she so passionately loves. When I think about my own faith and how much I loved the game, I'm not sure what decision I would have made at her age.

This is why I was compelled to show my support. I want to present a call to action to all my followers and fans to retweet and share this video to your social media platforms and help bring visibility to Bilqis as she shares her story and challenges the system that is currently denying her what she holds so dear. Let's show FIBA, who will hold a hearing on whether to lift this ban on January 27th that the rule should be changed. Let's help Bilqis as well as future Muslim female athletes get the opportunity to  experience that freedom and share their talent with the world, without having to conform their faith.

Please share the following tweet with #FIBAAllowHijab

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NBA All Star 2017

As long as I can remember I've been a fan of the game of basketball. My Dad often spoke about the Legends of the game, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Moses Malone, and his all- time favorite- George "IceMan" Gervin.  He loved the way he would finger roll the basketball into the basket so effortlessly.  I idolized many of the NBA players when I started playing the game of basketball and imitated many of their moves because I didn't have women's players to look up to. It was very challenging for me to attend the NBA All Star game while I was playing abroad in Europe. The one year I planned to attend the All Star game was in New Orleans and my flight from Israel got canceled.  It was then I told myself I would go and experience the game after I finished playing. I was very excited when Charlotte, North Carolina was chosen to host the 2017 All Star game. I would finally experience my 1st All Star game in my home state. Everything changed when the NBA removed the game because of the league's objection to the state's House Bill 2, which limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the state.  Although I disagreed with the House Bill and was upset with North Carolina losing the game, I quickly looked at the positive side, I would get the missed opportunity from 2008 and experience the game in New Orleans in 2017.
North Carolina lost the chance to host the NBA All Star game because of the House Bill 2.

As a retired player I will also get to experience the game with other NBA, WNBA, ABA & Harlem Globetrotter Legends the weekend of February 18, 2017.  This will also be very exciting for the National Basketball Player's Association (NBRPA)  as we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this year. All NBRPA members are invited to be a part of the festivities at NBA All Star and please visit the website for more information. I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and finally experiencing my 1st All Star game.

Please follow the @wnbaalumni on twitter and @nbaalumni to stay in the loop with what's going on with our Legends of the game.

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NBA and WNBA and Politics

The Cleveland Cavaliers stopped by the White House to visit President Obama and celebrate their championship season.  Fortunately for the Cavs, this will be the last NBA or WNBA team to meet with President Obama to celebrate their championship season.  President Obama has always had a way with words and referenced each player in his speech. He even  joked about JR Smith shirtless attire after winning his 1st ever championship by saying, “I want to give a special thanks to J.R. Smith’s shirt for showing up,” Obama said. “I’m glad you came. You’re a very nice shirt.”

JR Smith remained shirtless after winning his 1st ever NBA championship.

President-Elect Trump will be in office on January 20th after running one of the most racist and woman-hating campaigns ever. It will be interesting to see how the WNBA L A Sparks will receive their invitation to the White House next year to celebrate their 2016 WNBA title. They may want to try and get that celebration started earlier before President Obama and First lady Michelle are gone. With both professional teams as well as individual athletes protesting and voicing their opinions on political matters and injustice,  it will be really interesting to see how the future championship celebrations at the White House turn out.

Athletes are now using their platforms more than ever to protest racial injustice.
In the past many athletes have steered away from using their platforms for political matters. With the recent Black Lives Matter movement, racial injustice, and police brutality issues, many athletes have chosen to no longer remain silent.  One of these former professional athletes not only used her voice, but put her words in to action and ran for mayor of her city. My former Washington Mystics teammate and University of Miami Hall of Famer, Tamara James, said that she wasn't going to just encourage people to vote and complain about the many problems affecting our race but she was going to run for mayor. I've followed and supported her over the past year and I would like to congratulate her on becoming the youngest ever to become Mayor of Dania Beach, Florida. She was not only the youngest to ever be elected she also received the most votes. She was quoted as saying "Voting does Matter."  It is often said that athletes only use their voice and briefly bring awareness to what's going on. Tamara James will not only use her voice but now has the platform to evoke change in her city.

Congratulations Tamara James on being elected Mayor of Dania Beach Florida.

I am proud of Tamara and all the athletes that are using their platforms to use their influence in a positive way.  To whom much is given, much is required.  Professional athletes work incredibly hard, yet the rewards of being a professional athlete are just as incredible.  You may not decide to take a knee like Kapaernick, run for mayor like Tamara, or give a speech at the ESPYs, and that's okay.  There are countless ways to use your influence.  Blog, write, speak, volunteer, develop a nonprofit, run a business, create a radio show, mentor kids.  Whatever you do, speak up and speak out for the issues that are important to you.  Many of the former WNBA and NBA legends are giving back  in a unique way with the help of various organizations like the NBRPA. If you're a retired professional basketball player or an individual or company interested in learning more about this organization click on the link below.

Last but not least Happy Veteran's Day to all those that have fought and continue to fight and make sacrifices on behalf of us all. Regardless of the presidential elections, please let us remember those who find honor and would sacrifice their lives for our country. 


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