A week and a half ago, San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick set off a firestorm when sports journalists realized that he was sitting down for the National Anthem ahead of a game. What followed was a week full of a faux-patriotic nonsense, with people making non-sensical arguments for why Kaepernick was a terrible person for, you know, believing that America is not a perfect country and we still have work to do as a society. Jerseys were burned, hissy fits were thrown, and by the end of last week, a wonderful movement was taking place on Twitter using the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick, in which active or retired military stood up for Kaepernick’s right to sit.
Kaepernick’s actions have gotten mixed reactions from fellow athletes too. Some football players think he’s wrong, and some athletes are supporting him. One athlete supporting him? Soccer player Megan Rapinoe, the 31-year-old midfielder and reigning World Cup winner with Team USA. At a game over the weekend, Megan chose to take a knee for the anthem (which is what Kaepernick has now decided to do).
— ❤️NWSL⚽️ (@gbpackfan32) September 5, 2016
When asked about it after the game, Rapinoe confirmed that she took a knee as a way to ally herself with Kaepernick.
“It was very intentional. It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.”
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”
Yes, cosign. This is a great case study for intersectionalism and simply “being a good ally.” I’m sure Rapinoe will get a lot of sh-t too, but as a white woman (even as a gay white woman) she’s not going to get even half the backlash Kaepernick has gotten. But that’s the point, and that’s what makes a good ally, the fact that she has empathy not only for Kaepernick as a person, but for the political and social issues he’s representing. Rapinoe also told ESPN:
“I am disgusted with the way he has been treated and the fans and hatred he has received in all of this. It is overtly racist. ‘Stay in your place, black man.’ Just didn’t feel right to me. We need a more substantive conversation around race relations and the way people of color are treated. We are not saying we are not one the greatest countries in world. Just need to accept that [it is] not perfect, things are broken. And quite honestly, being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling.”
She also told ESPN that she plans to continue taking a knee for the anthem. President Obama officially weighed in as well, saying that Kaepernick is “exercising his constitutional right to make a statement.” Will this be the end of all the “controversy”? Of course not. But it’s good to see Kaepernick has some back-up.
Photos courtesy of Getty, Twitter.