The WNBA, Nike and the Wings have decided to pull the team's Rebel Edition jersey from circulation just over a week after its official launch, saying in a joint-statement to Time's Megan McCluskey that they "[do] not align with our shared values of diversity, equity and inclusion."
The original Rebel Edition jerseys were inspired by the P-40 Warhawk plane used during World War II. The jersey's design features the Warhawk's signature star set over a military-grade green field.
According to Time, the jersey was said to have honored the more than 1,000 women who served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots corps (WASPs) during the war. However, not a single Black applicant was accepted to the program.
“What stands out about the WASPs is that they excluded Black women entirely,” Matthew F. Delmont, a history professor at Dartmouth College, told Time. “While the rest of the military and auxiliary services were segregated, they at least allowed African Americans to participate.”
The WNBA, by contrast, was made up of more than 80% players of color in 2019, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport's racial and gender report card.
The league, Nike and the Wings said in a statement that while the jersey was "designed to celebrate a group of Texas-based women pilots during World War II," they "recently learned the history of the program."
"As a result, the Dallas Wings will not wear this uniform on court, Nike and its partners are removing it from retail, and Nike and the Wings will work together on a new Nike Rebel Edition uniform design for the future," the joint-statement read.
“With all their resources, the Wings, the WNBA and Nike somehow collectively botched this,” Jasmine Baker, a women’s sports culturalist who drew attention to the controversial design on social media, told Time. “One reason why I wanted to bring this to people’s attention was that for fans who were considering purchasing the jersey, this [decision] was obviously going to be questionable at best."
Last week, in the lead-up to its 25th season which begins May 14, the league released three new jersey designs for each team, debuting the Heroine Edition, the Explorer Edition and the Rebel Edition.
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