U.S. women's national team player Megan Rapinoe has said the reason she knelt during the playing of the national anthem was because she felt she had do something to call attention to the nation's racial inequality and police brutality.
Rapinoe reiterated her thoughts about the subject in a post on The Players' Tribune, titled "Why I Am Kneeling."
Rapinoe first knelt for the anthem before a Sept. 4 National Women’s Soccer League between the Seattle Reign FC and Chicago Red Stars as a nod to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has repeatedly sat or knelt during the national anthem before his team's preseason and regular season games this year.
She also knelt before a U.S. women’s national team match against Thailand on Sept. 15. Rapinoe heard from some her teammates on the national squad including Carli Lloyd, who told Rapinoe that her protest was "distracting."
"I have chosen to kneel because in the time it has taken me to write this article, many more Americans have been lost to senseless violence," Rapinoe writes. "I have chosen to kneel because not two miles from my hotel in Columbus, Ohio, on the night before our USWNT match against Thailand, a 13-year-old boy named Tyre King was fatally shot by a police officer. I have chosen to kneel because I simply cannot stand for the kind of oppression this country is allowing against its own people. I have chosen to kneel because, in the words of Emma Lazarus, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free."
Rapinoe says that she understands that people will think she is "disrespecting the flag by kneeling," but adds she believes "it is my responsibility, just as it is yours, to ensure that freedom is afforded to everyone in this country."
In previous comments, Rapinoe has also said her identity as a lesbian informed her views on Kaepernick's protest.
"When we as a nation put our minds to something, when we truly choose to care about something, change always happens," Rapinoe writes in The Players' Tribune. "I am choosing to do something. I am choosing to care."
- Scooby Axson