World Cup-winning African American soccer star Crystal Dunn revealed that she refrained from joining her teammate Megan Rapinoe, who is a caucasian, in kneeling to protest police brutality, because she was terrified of having her contract terminated, and likely losing her career.
“I remember telling her [Rapinoe] that, ‘I have to stand… because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Dunn remarked in a Bleacher Report Black Lives Matter roundtable discussion.
Dunn – a member, with more than 100 caps, of the United States women’s senior national soccer team – further explained that the optics “would look differently if a black girl, on the team, kneels… and, I remember telling her [Rapinoe], it hurts me to my core that I’m going to to stand… but, I always told her [Rapinoe] ‘I’m supportive’.”
Dunn, however, was quick to point out that, as a result of the recent Black Lives Matter protests against the death of George Floyd, the climate on racial relations is, seemingly, changing. The U.S. women’s number 19 noted that certain behaviors that were previously tolerated are no longer being swept under the rug. The 2012 Hermann trophy winner then added that people can now lose their jobs over something as casual as a tweet, that has racial undertones.
BuzzFeed reporter Molly Hensley-Clancy posted the statements from Dunn’s roundtable Bleacher talk:
Rapinoe’s on-field display of solidarity with the African American and other peoples of color’s plight was inspired by ex-San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick. The former quarterback began kneeling whenever the national anthem was played, during the National Football League’s 2016 pre-season games, to protest police brutality being meted out to black and brown peoples across the United States, as well as overall systemic racial inequality.
Like Kaepernick, who has effectively been banished from the NFL, the 2019 women’s Ballon d’Or winner was punished, post haste, and her action succinctly denounced, in a statement, by U.S. Soccer.
“I saw the way U.S. Soccer responded and treated Megan. They kept her out of some games, kept her out of camps, and I was like, ‘yes that’s bad,’ but to me, I was thinking ‘they could rip up my contract’,” Dunn remarked, before adding “so, I thought I was actually going to get it much worse.”
Statement of denouncement from U.S. Soccer:
“Representing your country is a privilege and honor for any player or coach that is associated with U.S. Soccer’s National Team,” the organization wrote. “In front of national and often global audiences, the playing of our national anthem is an opportunity for our Men’s and Women’s National Team players and coaches to reflect upon the liberties and freedom we all appreciate in this country.”
Rapinoe’s celebrity paired with her being integral to the success of the U.S. women’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign, and subsequent triumph, afforded her the anchor to withstand the league’s push back.
U.S. Soccer recently issued an apology to its players and rescinded its no-kneeling policy in a statement. Read the statement below: