Before the start of her Sunday night soccer match with the Seattle Reign FC, lesbian Olympian soccer player Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem in a show of solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a football player who has protested “The Star-Spangled Banner” by refusing to stand during its playing.
Kaepernick sat while the anthem played at an August 26 pre-season game, later explaining, ”I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
After receiving criticism that his protest disrespected U.S. military members who had fought under the flag, Kaepernick knelt instead of sitting during the anthem at a September 1 game. His actions have inspired other athletes to protest the anthem including his teammate Eric Reid, Seattle’s Seahawks player Jeremy Lane and now soccer player Megan Rapinoe.
In an interview with American Soccer Now, Rapinoe said:
“It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. 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.”
“I plan to keep doing [it] 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.”
Amid Kaepernick’s protest, writers have begun examining the national anthem — in particular its ominous and rarely-sung third stanza talking about the blood of slaves — and the song’s anti-abolitionist author Francis Scott Key, a lawyer who once prosecuted a man for owning anti-slavery pamphlets.
(featured image via @gbpackfan32)