Megan Rapinoe, a high-profile member of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, took to her knee during the national anthem before a match between Seattle Reign and Chicago Red Stars.
In doing so, Rapinoe joined a growing list of celebrity supporters of Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who refused to stand for the national anthem due to racial injustice in America. Kaepernick has since made headline news. Rapinoe also chose not to put her hand on her heart, leaving her arms down, instead, notes People Magazine.
According to Dead Spin, Rapinoe once grabbed a microphone and sang Springsteen's “Born In The U.S.A.” after making a goal.
Rapinoe spoke to American Soccer Now after the match, and confirmed that her kneeling was indeed meant as a show of solidarity to Kaepernick and that she strongly condemned Kaepernick's treatment by the media:
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.
Rapinoe not only voiced her opinion on racial inequality in the U.S., but also drew parallels between the flag as a symbol of racial oppression and the flag as a symbol of her lack of religious liberty as a gay American, as well as the need for white Americans to join the protest:
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.
Though Kaepernick's protest has caused him to face a great deal of scrutiny and criticism, he has also received a fair amount of support. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Kaepernick's jerseys have actually reached number one in sales in the 49ers store.
Kaepernick is also doing more than just protesting: he has announced a plan to donate up to $1 million to groups affected by racial injustice.