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Megan Rapinoe Takes a Knee to Support Colin Kaepernick

Megan Rapinoe Takes a Knee to Support Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe
Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe

The lesbian soccer pro and Olympian says the "overtly racist" backlash to the NFL star's national anthem protest "disgusted" her. 

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Count lesbian soccer star and Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe among the supporters of Colin Kaepernick. She knelt during the national anthem Sunday night before her team, the Seattle Reign, played the Chicago Red Stars in a National Women's Soccer League game in Chicago.

Rapinoe, who is white, said the "overtly racist" reactions to Kaepernick's protest "disgusted" her and motivated her to do something to help "continue the conversation" about racial injustice. Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, has received both hate and support for his choice to protest racism tby refusing to stand when "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played before games.

"We need a more substantive conversation around race relations and the way people of color are treated," Rapinoe told ESPNW. "We are not saying we are not one the greatest countries in the world. Just need to accept that [it is] not perfect, things are broken."

Kaepernick has received criticism in part because of perceptions that he should be thankful for his upbringing and career, and that because he is biracial and was raised by white parents. he doesn't have room to talk.

Rapinoe came out in 2012 and since then has used her voice to advocate for LGBT causes and organizations including the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and she saw the connections between her experience of homophobia and Kaepernick's experience of racism.

"Quite honestly, being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven't had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling," she told ESPNW.

Many athletes are using their platform to bring some visibility to Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements, but the New York Daily News noticed few are white men. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, who is black, has joined Kaepernick in protest.

Athletes have a long history of engaging in protest on social issues, but not all sports organizations have been supportive. This year the WNBA issued fines to players for wearing unauthorized shirts supporting Black Lives Matter in the wake of the killings of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, by police, then rescinded the fines.

The NFL supports Kaepernick and his choice of protest, and many fans seem to as well. His red jersey has taken the number 1 spot in sales since he stood up by sitting down. And he's showing the money with a huge donation to organizations working against racial injustice and police brutality.

Kaepernick has also received some support from the leader of the free world. The quarterback is "exercising his constitutional right" to protest, President Obama said at a news conference Monday. He noted that some people, especially members and veterans of the armed forces, might be offended by Kaepernick's action, but added, "I don't doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else, he's generated more conversation about issues that have to be talked about."

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