Rapinoe on Kneeling During Anthem: ‘I Had This Immense Sense of Pride’

‘ — it was difficult and heavy’

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EXCERPT:

COOPER: “Speaking of that, 2016 was when you knelt during the playing of the national anthem before a game in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. You wrote an essay called why I’m kneeling and I just want to read a part of it. You said, “...it’s because of my utmost respect for the flag and the promise it represents that I have chosen to demonstrate in this way. When I take a knee I’m facing the flag with my full body staring straight into the heart of our country’s ultimate symbol of freedom because I believe it’s my responsibility just as it is yours to ensure that freedom is afforded to everyone in this country,” and then at another point, you said in a tweet, “being a gay American I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties.” People still do not understand and criticize you for bringing one person, bringing politics into the game for, you know, disrespecting the flag, the anthem, the country. That is what the criticism is.”

RAPINOE: “Yeah, it’s very much is that. I don’t fully understand it, either because I think that taking care of others, standing up for yourself and other people, if they don’t have the ability to do so is very uniquely American. I think everyone in America would say that and I think we have a rich history and a pride in saying that in those words and often times in doing that in the world. I don’t think anybody can deny the horrors of racism and Jim Crow and mass incarceration and what’s happening on the southern border and gay rights and women’s rights. It’s like, I don’t quite understand, you know, sort of where the miss is because I think a lot of the people that disagree with me would benefit greatly from a world that is better for everyone.”

COOPER: “You do not see it as disrespecting the flag or the anthem?”

RAPINOE: “I do not, no. I think that protest is not comfortable ever. It’s going to make people uncomfortable. It’s gonna- you know, force people to look inwards and question, you know, everything they thought they knew. It’s not convenient. It doesn’t feel good really for anyone, even in those moments kneeling those were, you know, some of the most crazy personal moments that I’ve ever had but that’s what it takes, progress is hard.”

COOPER: “The moments kneeling were difficult for you?”

RAPINOE: “Yeah, it was.”

COOPER: “Because of people’s reaction or?”

RAPINOE: “A little bit, yeah. Obviously knowing — especially after the first time that I did it, you know, knowing how angry people were, but it also — it was difficult and heavy but I have this immense sense of pride and responsibility in doing that. So I think that’s where the strength of doing it a number of times came from.”

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