Not Even Death Threats Can Silence Christianna Carr

The rising Kansas State star is making her presence felt off the court

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Christianna Carr grew up in Minneapolis. Kansas State’s rising junior walked the very street — even frequented the very Cup Foods — where George Floyd was murdered. “Me and my best friend used to walk to that store and actually get snacks from there,” she says.

So when Carr saw the video of Floyd’s death, it was personal. “That could’ve been my dad, that could’ve been my uncle, that could’ve been my brother, that could’ve been my best friend’s brother or dad,” she says. “People are burning down a city that I call home … that’s what really hurt me the most.”

Christianna Carr grew up buying food from the Cup Foods store where George Floyd was killed. The store’s wall now displays an iconic mural honoring Floyd and many who came before him. (Photo courtesy of wikimedia.org)

Carr cared deeply about social justice before Floyd’s death, but watching some of her closest friends protesting in the city that raised her sparked a new flame. “She’s always had a touch of activism in her,” says Peyton Williams, a recent Kansas State graduate and Carr’s former teammate. “But now this is her fight.”

Five days after Floyd was killed, Carr attended a protest in Topeka, Kansas. Before long, she received a text from Williams: “Hey, I see you!” The two met up and Carr led some chants as their group marched around the capitol building. “It was cool to watch her find her voice that first time at the Topeka protest,” Williams says.

In the days since, Carr’s voice has only grown stronger. Her second protest was a local one in Manhattan, Kansas, where she again led the crowd in several chants. Carr followed that up by organizing a protest  — she and her fellow students were joined by her head coach, Jeff Mittie, on a march around campus.

“That's all that I wanted to do, was just inspire people to use their voice.”

—Christianna Carr

Her latest stop? The city she loves the most. Carr drove to Minneapolis on Friday to join family and friends in protest. She will also be joining Terry Willis — a Black father and business owner from Huntsville, Alabama. Willis is in the midst of a 1,000-mile walk to the Minnesota state capitol to raise awareness for “change, justice, and equality.” Among many others, Carr will walk the final stretch with him.

Christianna Carr marches during a protest on June 2 in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo courtesy of Christianna Carr)

As Carr has grown increasingly active in protesting, she has also become more outspoken on social media. She has over 3,700 followers on Twitter and nearly 11,000 on Instagram, and she knows that with her following comes a platform. “I can go out and I can speak to people about [human rights], but people are gonna see my social media,” she says. “I know people look at my social media, so I could get a lot more people looking at my stuff if I were to just post it.”

At first, however, Carr was hesitant to post anything for fear of the repercussions it might have for the Kansas State women’s basketball program. But after some deliberations and conversations with her mother, she decided to use her online voice, tweeting a photo of herself with a “Black Lives Matter” sign next to a photo of herself on the basketball court with the caption, “If you don’t support me with this… then don’t support me with that… Simple.”

“I knew tweeting that that I was taking the risk of having some type of backlash,” she says. “If you speak up for what you believe in, it's gonna hurt somebody. On these kind of topics, not everyone's gonna agree with you. I mean, if everybody agreed with it, then we wouldn't have this problem in the first place.”

“If you spend time focusing on the Twitter trolls, you’re gonna lose your mind.”

—Christianna Carr

While the response from teammates and coaches has been “nothing but support,” the online dissent has ranged from racist to misogynistic to downright barbaric. Some saw Carr's tweet as a reason to put down women’s basketball or crack juvenile sandwich jokes; others went as far as direct messaging her death threats. (“You should burn,” one user wrote.)

Carr isn’t letting the hate distract her from her goal: “to spew out positivity and unity.” Her mindset may be best described by Michelle Obama’s famous words — “When they go low, we go high.”

“If you spend time focusing on the Twitter trolls, you’re gonna lose your mind,” Carr says. “I just focus on the ones that do support me.”

Christianna Carr takes a selfie with friends and supporters at a protest she organized on June 9 on the Kansas State campus. (Photo courtesy of Christianna Carr)

Carr is even finding the silver linings of the cruel responses. “At the end of the day, whether they liked it or not, they still saw it,” she says. “It got into the hands of the people that needed to see it, and that's all that matters.”

Carr’s remarkable attitude has energized those who follow her. “As many death threats as I’ve had, I’ve had messages that have said that I’ve inspired them to speak out on it as well,” she says. “That's all that I wanted to do, was just inspire people to use their voice.”

“It has been especially cool for me … to step back and have the roles be switched — for me to follow her lead.”

—Peyton Williams

Williams is one of those who’s been inspired. “It has been especially cool for me, as someone who has been in a leadership role with her these past four years, to step back and have the roles be switched — for me to follow her lead.”

Christianna Carr and Peyton Williams at a protest on May 30 in Topeka, Kansas. (Photo courtesy of Peyton Williams and Christianna Carr)

As Carr continues to use her online platform to advocate for change, she is also prepared to take the offline steps to create change. “Everyone just seems to be like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna do the hashtag; I’m gonna do the one post,’” she says. “They don't really think about how to move the needle forward, and so that's kind of something that I've been focusing on.”

One way she plans to do that is by pushing for the Kansas State women’s basketball team to join the growing number of NCAA teams that are canceling all mandatory practices or activities on Election Day. “If we don't like people in the positions that we have right now that are controlling stuff, we have every opportunity as Americans to be able to go vote them out,” she says. “Everyone’s looking for where’s gonna be the change — the change is with the voting.”

Christianna Carr displays her sign at a protest on June 13 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Christianna Carr)

Carr would like to see teams take it one step further: “I feel like it would be a good idea to be able to educate our athletes on, ‘Hey, here's how to register, here's a list of people that you would be voting for and what they kind of stand for so you can read through it and actually educate yourself on it, here are the tools to educate yourself before you make that decision, and then here's how to vote — here's how to actually go out and do it.’”

Regardless of whether Kansas State implements any of those proposals, Carr hopes to make voting a team activity. “Even if that's, ‘Hey, we're gonna go do it as a team — let's go grab lunch and go vote,’” she says. “Let's go vote and then grab dinner. Let's go do whatever as a team and let's go vote as a team, because that's going to be the area that we change.”

In a climate of heightened activism led by a generation of movers and shakers, there is no Martin Luther King Jr., there is no Rosa Parks, and there is no Malcolm X; instead there are Christianna Carrs — grassroots leaders mobilizing a movement across the nation. And like those that came before them, these leaders will not be silenced.


Thanks for reading the Her Hoop Stats Newsletter. If you like our work, be sure to check out our stats site, our podcast, and our social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also buy Her Hoop Stats gear, such as laptop stickers, mugs, and shirts!

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