Sep. 06, 2016
Rapinoe Calls Critics Of Kaepernick 'Overtly Racist'
By Sope Eweje, For The African-American Athlete
The movement against racial discrimination and police brutality in the United States continues to expand among athletes.
On Sunday, US women’s national soccer team star Megan Rapinoe became the latest high profile athlete to join San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his protest of this country’s treatment of African-Americans by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem prior to one of her recent club games.
NFLers Eric Reid and Jeremy Lane also recently joined Kaepernick in taking a stand by sitting down during NFL preseason games. But one thing makes this situation different: unlike these black, male athletes, Rapinoe is a white woman.
She is definitely not mincing any words on this issue. “I am disgusted with the way he has been treated and the fans and hatred he has received in all of this,” Rapinoe said in an interview with espnW’s Julie Foudy. “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."
The soccer star is not unfamiliar with the discriminatory tendencies of this country. As a member of the LGBT community, the two-time FIFA World Cup medalist has been outspoken on various social issues affecting the people of this country.
“I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven't had my liberties protected,” she noted while describing reasons why she sympathizes with Kaepernick. "The very least that I can do is continue the conversation with him by kneeling for the anthem."
In spite of these athletes coming out to stand for what is right, it seems like all this country wants to talk about is the action and not the issues that motivated it. Even during an ESPN interview with one of Rapinoe’s former teammates after the occurrence, the questions focused on how the US soccer federation might react and how these acts are “being received” by the media and general public. But regardless, when people with social influence use their voices to speak up for down-trodden people without a platform to speak their minds, good things will likely arise in the end.
Many people tend to think that the voices of people who have not personally experienced the issues at hand, such as Rapinoe, are less relevant in any discussion of racial justice. But I’d like to argue the exact opposite.
If Colin Kaepernick were white, his actions would serve as an even bigger wake up call to America. People would be forced to think “Why would this wealthy and successful white athlete jeopardize his career and reputation to draw attention to an issue that doesn’t directly affect him?” The only conclusion a logical person could come to is there must truly be an issue that should be addressed. But in reality, Kaepernick is black, so people are quick to say he is an unpatriotic crybaby who is complaining about an issue that doesn’t exist while sitting in his million dollar mansion.
The vitriolic reaction to Kaepernick’s protest demonstrates the need for people of other races, who are more or less objective observers, to follow his lead and publically argue that there are things this country has to change in regard to racial justice. The sad truth is that it is a lot easier for people to invalidate and disconsider the voice of a black man speaking about his own trials than that of a white person who does it for him. For more check out ESPN article regarding Rapinoe.
(Sope Eweje, hails from North Carolina, where basketball is king. He is a student at MIT, and is studying bio-mechanical engineering. You can him on Facebook (Basically Basketball) and Twitter (@basicallybball).