WNBA star Candace Parker is speaking out about her own experiences with racial discrimination and sexism.
In a more than 3-minute long video montage featured on Adidas.com, the two-time league MVP recalled growing up in a predominately white school from kindergarten through high school, and being picked last at the park for pick-up games because she was female. The clip shows exclusive images of Parker as a child with her parents and as a teen dribbling on the court in her hometown of Naperville, Ill.
“I then made it my mission to be picking the team, because we were going to beat every game. It’s all about perspective — when people try to put individuals in a box and then get mad at them when they don’t fit. I love seeing obstacles that people put up, saying you can’t do something, and then trying to break those down,” Parker said in the video.
In the clip, Parker also shared that her mission in life is to leave behind a legacy of encouragement for future generations, including her nieces, nephews and 11-year-old Lailaa Nicole Williams. She aims to educate them about current events of racial injustice enacted towards people of color as well as to encourage them that females can be successful athletes, too (of which she is already living proof).
“Obviously having the hardest conversations are with my niece and nephew and daughter — explaining through their innocence what’s happening in the world and that some people don’t see it the way they do. I have so much hope because of those conversations that they’re going to finally get it right,” Parker said.
The video launch comes nearly a week after the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, by white police officer, which led WNBA players to boycott their games as a form of protest. Its debut also comes on the heels of Women’ Equality Day on Aug. 26, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
Throughout her career, Parker has continued to use her platform for social justice reform across many categories. In July, she partnered with her team, the Los Angeles Sparks, to launch a “Change Has No Offseason” campaign to combat systemic racism and sexism. Its initiatives are focused on voting, education and immigration reform, joining existing projects by the Sparks’ community outreach program dedicated to mental health and wellness, police and youth relations and women’s rights.
“You can’t shout Black Lives matter but treat women negatively,” Parker said in the new feature on Adidas’ website. “You can’t post hatred about sexual orientation but scream about race.”
Parker has been under contract with Adidas since 2008, sporting the brand’s footwear both off and on the court at every game.