Megan Rapinoe isn’t trying to play it cool. Not on a long drive downfield during a World Cup soccer match, and not when it comes to taking a stand on social justice issues. The U.S. women’s team captain prefers a bullhorn of righteousness to a bunker of privilege secured by her own whiteness.
She could have taken one look at the public backlash and the lost career Kaepernick worked a lifetime to achieve, and simply said: That ain’t it.
In the years since former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick first dropped down on one knee to protest police violence in non-white communities, it might have been easy for a girl from predominantly white Redding, Calif., to shrug it all off, to ignore the horrors unfolding on the streets and avenues of that other America. She could have taken one look at the public backlash and the lost career Kaepernick worked a lifetime to achieve, and simply said: That ain’t it.
She could have ignored the headlines: a 12-year-old black boy shot in a snowy park by a Cleveland police officer; an executive order effectively banning Muslim travel to the U.S.; Trump’s mealy-mouthed response to the marauding, bat-wielding white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville shouting “Jews will not replace us!” She could have turned a blind eye to a White House that justifies detaining children as young as 4 months old in concentration camps along our nation’s southern border. She could have ignored newly proposed HUD policies allowing transgender discrimination at homeless shelters, and the administration’s nomination of anti-gay activists to federal benches across the land.
But that has never been who she is.
A staunch defender of LGBTQ rights, three years ago, Rapinoe—who is gay—became the first female athlete to kneel during a pre-match national anthem. The U.S. Soccer Federation changed the rules, requiring all national team members to “stand respectfully” as the song is played.
“I’m the same Megan Rapinoe you’ve known for years now … I haven’t experienced over-policing, racial profiling, police brutality or the sight of a family member’s body lying dead in the street,” the 33-year-old wrote in The Player’s Tribune. “But I cannot stand idly by while there are people in this country who have had to deal with that kind of heartache.”
Trump remains resentful that almost nobody—save for a gaggle of sycophants, cash-on-the-barrel lobbyists and hardline right-wing activists—wants to be seen anywhere with him.
“It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” she told the Guardian in an interview. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done. But it is still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”
Two and a half years after his inauguration, Trump remains resentful that almost nobody—save for a gaggle of sycophants, cash-on-the-barrel lobbyists and hardline right-wing activists—wants to be seen anywhere with him. He is resentful that he—a man of few (misspelled) letters whose very loyalty to this republic is an unresolved question—is not embraced as the “stable genius” he purports himself to be.
It should be said that Rapinoe now stands before matches, albeit silently with her hands clasped behind her back. But she does not do so alone. Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger took to social media and spared nothing in a scalding tweet: “In regards to the ‘President’s’ tweet today, I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you, but I stand by @mPinoe & will sit this one out as well.”
Despite Trump’s “win or lose” invitation, Rapinoe is “not going to the fucking White House.” And—unless and until the unlikely event that this president reverses course on human rights issues, demonstrates a modicum of sanity and works to restore respect to the Oval Office—neither should anyone else.