Megan Rapinoe, who plays midfielder for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team, got tons of attention when she decided to kneel during the national anthem.
Today, she published a piece in The Players Tribune titled “Why I’m Kneeling” offering the reasoning behind her silent protest. Rapinoe explains that while she nor anyone in her family has experienced racism, she still feels the need to speak out.
“I haven’t experienced over-policing, racial profiling, police brutality or the sight of a family member’s body lying dead in the street,” she explained, “but I cannot stand idly by while there are people in this country who have had to deal with that kind of heartache. There is no perfect way to protest. I know that nothing I do will take away the pain of those families. But I feel in my heart it is right to continue to kneel during the national anthem, and I will do whatever I can to be part of the solution.”
The gold medalist also addresses the naysayers who say that kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful.
“I can understand if you think that I’m disrespecting the flag by kneeling, but it is because of my utmost respect for the flag and the promise it represents that I have chosen to demonstrate in this way,” she writes.“When I take a knee, I am facing the flag with my full body, staring straight into the heart of our country’s ultimate symbol of freedom — because I believe it is my responsibility, just as it is yours, to ensure that freedom is afforded to everyone in this country.”
While plenty of soccer fans are supporting Rapinoe, the US Soccer federation’s response has been less than stellar. “As part of the privilege to represent your country, we have an expectation that our players and coaches will stand and honor our flag while the national anthem is played,” they said in a statement released in September.
Rapinoe ends her message with “I am choosing to do something. I am choosing to care.”
You can read the rest of her Players’ Tribune article here.