Dallas Wings Isabelle Harrison: "I'm not going to stop talking about these things."
Harrison talks George Floyd, the team's new social justice initiative, the WNBA bubble, and more.
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Forward Isabelle Harrison from the Dallas Wings. Photo Credit: Chris Poss
Like the rest of the world, the videotaped murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in late May made Isabelle Harrison sick; in more ways than one.
“When I first heard of the George Floyd murder I was very anxious and talking about racism actually gave me real anxiety - I could feel it physically,” the center for the Dallas Wings said. “But I decided I couldn't allow myself to not cope in a healthy way because I still had to do workouts and so I turned my thoughts into actions.”
Harrison got off social media for a while then moved to make only positive posts. “I tried to post informative things instead of things that were draining like videos of people getting killed. I just refused to share those types of things so I just switched my whole approach to what’s been going on recently.”
She also began to post social justice messages and empowerment messages; something her followers weren’t used to.
“I’ve been posting and sharing information on my platform that a lot of people didn’t expect me to do because of my platform, which is so crazy to me,” she said. “I’ve had people reach out to me and say they are glad I was saying something (about the racial unrest) which blows my mind why I wouldn’t but I guess there’s situations where sometimes they feel like high profile people, players, celebrities, athletes, whatever don’t use their platform to speak about real things.
“I just never wanted to be in that category.”
She took her action a step further taking leadership of the Dallas Wings’ social justice initiative - #IAM - “to share experiences relating to social justice issues and fuel the engine for change.”
Harrison created the team’s #IAM t-shirts which feature the #IAM logo on the front and a raised fist on the back. The shirts are available on Skylerindallas.com with proceeds benefiting the BlackLivesMatter initiative.
“I’ve had several conversations with loads of people about Social Justice. Some great and some not so great. Nevertheless, it made me think of what I could do to give back and spread awareness. Designing this t-shirt for my teammates and staff, along with the help of Jarrod Allison (Wings designer) has been awesome.
“One thing I learned about all the racial issues that’s been going on is that I have a lot of associates - I can’t really call them friends anymore - that don’t really see what’s going on,” she said. “Before this all happened, I never would have thought twice that they had that mindset.
“It just brought a lot of things to light and I’m just thankful I’m able to see those things now,” she said. “My hope moving forward is for actual laws to change and I’ve been seeing a lot of celebratory news in the media lately as far as street signs changing, actors getting proper roles in Hollywood and those things, but I truly believe the only thing that people want is laws to be changed and consequences to be held against anyone in power that distributes and play into racial discrimination.”
And it’s the latter that Harrison said she will continue to use her platform for.
“That’s what I want. That’s what I believe to be fair. And until these change, I’m not going to stop talking about these things.”
Before leaving for the WNBA bubble as all teams did this morning, Harrison spoke about the COVID-19 pandemic and her health concerns (Harrison has been suffering from an autoimmune disease since 2017 that is now under control); the WNBA bubble and start of the season, her new teammates and more.
On the WNBA bubble:
“For me, just dealing with autoimmune issues, there were concerns. And I still do have concerns about the rising numbers of COVID in Florida. I feel now I’m finally at a point where I’ve gotten it under control and I understand my body and how it flares up.”
“I’m just trying to keep my mind around the fact that as soon as we get there we’ll get in the bubble and get the testing that we need,” Harrison said. “I’m just trying to be positive because up until this day, with me being in Italy and me being there when there was a huge pandemic and flying back and everything, I’ve tested negative for antibodies and I’m currently negative for COVID-19 so I’ve been doing something right. So again, just praying to God to keep our safety and health together.”
Aside from the obvious concerns around the pandemic, Harrison expressed excitement overall for playing the game she loves again.
“I’m excited solely for the reason we’ve never had this many WNBA players in one place before. I can’t wait to see what type of content and fun stories will come out of this moment. Of course, being able to play basketball once again is exciting. Honestly, I wish I was doing it in front of our fans in Dallas but hopefully everyone tunes in. I love seeing girls from other teams as well as my own team so we’ll see how it goes.”
On quarantine and staying in shape:
“When the pandemic began I was in Italy and then I flew back to Dallas. I stayed in a hotel for two weeks and thank God my sister lives in Dallas as well. Before I got back she placed food, laundry detergent, snacks, drinks, everything in my room before I got there so those two weeks were so long. That’s where I ended up staying.”
“To stay in shape I’ve been working out; doing workouts with my trainer and doing weights with my physical therapist. Just working on keeping my knee strong - I had surgery at the end of September last year - so just really doing a good job of staying on top of that.”
On launching her YouTube skincare channel:
“This is something that has taken a back seat lately. With just the social injustices that have been going on, on top of trying to start the WNBA, I really haven’t taken the time to do my skincare work. I’ve also kind of felt selfish going back to that content because I felt there were more important things. But I've learned to get slowly back into what I love to do, alongside posting about what’s been going on.”
“I just love skincare. My mom has taught me to do it from a very early age. She’s in her mid-60s and her skin is flawless. Thank God I got blessed with a little bit of that. Not so much. But she just taught me from an early age to take care of my skin. The first thing people see is your face. So she told me to make sure I took care of that.”
“Skincare is important for black women because I often think that black women don’t really have products for their skin,” Harrison said. “Skin is skin but at the end of the day we do experience a lot of things that other ethnicities don’t experience- hyperpigmentation, discoloration- and there’s not a lot of products out there to help us mend our skin back to where it should be.”
Harrison also believes it's important to show her beauty as an athlete.
“Being a basketball player on top of being a woman, I think it’s super important to embrace my feminine side and that is why I was so happy I got to do “A Day in the Life of Izzy” on the WNBA’s platform,” she said. “I get to show that outside of basketball I am a woman. I can be hard and tough on the court but off the court, I can be soft. I just really like showing that side. It shows my upbringing and what I saw being around my mother and my six other sisters.”
On her new teammates:
“I’ve been able to meet mostly everybody,” Harrison said before leaving today. “I met Satou. That girl is good. I’m excited for her. She’s just a sweet girl all around so that makes me happy. I got to meet Bella. She’s taller than I think people think and she can shoot the three so I’m excited about that. Everyone else I kind of knew already. I’m just ready to get going.
As the team arrives for the WNBA bubble, Harrison remains optimistic but sees a bigger purpose for the pandemic and the racial and social unrest.
“To be honest, COVID is so scary but I believe God has placed COVID during this time to show some very real things about the current country and world state that otherwise would have been ignored and continuously swept underneath the rug.”