Megan Rapinoe lays down gauntlet for white people to recognise their privilege and reflects on backlash she faced for protesting racism

Emma Powys Maurice
·2-min read

The Olympian soccer goddess Megan Rapinoe is using her platform as one of the most influential voices in sport to call out white privilege in her fellow athletes.

The US women’s soccer team captain was the first white American athlete to take a knee during the national anthem, in protest at racism and police brutality and as a show of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.

Writing in her new autobiography One Life, Rapinoe encouraged other sports stars to acknowledge their privilege and considered why so many still choose not to do so.

“A lot of times, white athletes, particularly male athletes, don’t feel the effects that other people do; they don’t feel the effects of racism, sexism, misogyny or pay inequity,” she said.

“We don’t speak out because we are privileged and we don’t have to. It comes in part from a lack of examination of your own life and the world around you.

“For white people and probably white men in general, they don’t really have to analyse the world around them to be successful. For example, if you’re gay, you’re constantly traversing a heteronormative world.

“While it is not necessarily people’s fault – people that were born now didn’t create the country the way it was created – that doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to it.”

Megan Rapinoe ‘felt career was in jeopardy’ after taking a knee.

Megan Rapinoe touched on the fierce backlash she faced after taking the knee, which at one point caused her to fear for the future of her career.

“It was not a comfortable time. I certainly felt that at least my international career was a little bit in jeopardy,” she admitted.

“It showed me a lot of true colours around me in a lot of different ways. The critics yell really loud and I had a federation who clearly didn’t support me and, I felt, a coach who really didn’t support me, but I had so many people around me who always stuck by me and were with me the whole time.

“But you have a choice of what you do in the world. You just have to be prepared to wear the consequences of your actions.”

Megan Rapinoe’s autobiography, One Life, is out this week. She is also working on another book for children, about “the power young people have within their own communities and the world at large”.