The starting members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team stood, rather than knelt, for the playing of the national anthem on Sunday as players agreed to move “past the protesting phase” over alleged “systemic racism.”
The 11 starting members of the women’s national team collectively stood for the anthem prior to their Sunday victory against Brazil in the United States’ second match of the SheBelieves cup. The team dressed in warmups emblazoned with the slogan “Black Lives Matter” across the front. U.S. defender Crystal Dunn later explained that the team “collectively” decided against kneeling in protest to “actually move into putting all of the talk into actual work,” according to ESPN.
“I think those that were collectively kneeling felt like we were kneeling to bring about attention to police brutality and systemic racism,” Dunn said. “I think we decided that moving forward we no longer feel the need to kneel because we are doing the work behind the scenes. We are combating systemic racism. And we never felt we were going to kneel forever, so there was always going to be a time that we felt it was time to stand. I think we’re all proud that we are doing the work behind the scenes and it was just a game that we felt we were ready to move into the next phase and just continuously fight for change.”
“For me personally I’ve always felt like I’m a testament to a lot of Black experiences,” she continued. “I am a Black athlete who has often felt like I have not been heard or not been seen and many Black people feel the same way. I think we’ve had those initial discussions, and I feel better about where this team is. But I do think moving forward, we’re prepared to just continue working off the field and continuously having these conversations.”
“Even though we are choosing to stand, it doesn’t mean that the conversations go away, or they stop,” Dunn said. “It’s all to say that we are now, I think, ready to move past the protesting phase and actually move into putting all of the talk into actual work.”
Nearly the entire U.S. women’s soccer team began kneeling for the national anthem this year following a summer of Black Lives Matter riots that caused billions in damages, according to insurance estimates. Hundreds of riots broke out across the U.S. after the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody in May. The trials for four former officers involved in Floyd’s death are scheduled to take place within months.
The U.S. women’s soccer team put out a statement in September affirming the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Today, we wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency. We protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people. We protest against the racist infrastructures that do not provide equal opportunity for Black and brown people to fulfill their dreams, including playing on this team,” the team said, in part.
“As the United States Women’s National team players, we collectively work toward a society where the American ideals are upheld, and Black lives are no longer systematically targeted,” the team added.
Anthem protests have become commonplace in U.S. professional sports, politicizing what many Americans once believed to be a symbol of unity. Former President Donald Trump repeatedly bashed the practice under his administration, calling it “disgraceful.”
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