It's time to stop silencing Colin Kaepernick & Megan Rapinoe:
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It's time to stop silencing Colin Kaepernick & Megan Rapinoe:

Colin Kaepernick, a former football player for the 49ers, & Megan Rapinoe, co-caption for the champion US Women's Soccer League, are both respectively catalysts of the Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+, and women's rights movements, actively protesting against systemic racism and sexism.

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It's time to stop silencing Colin Kaepernick & Megan Rapinoe:
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It's been three years since August 14, 2016 when NFL San Francisco 49ers QB, Colin Kaepernick, decided to take a knee for his first time during the National Anthem. Kaepernick took the knee as a way to broadcast a message that the United States American flag does not necessarily equate to justice for all, as Black individuals in America are still disproportionately targeted and oppressed, actively combating systemic police brutality and the prison industrial complex in contemporary day. When Kaepernick took the knee, this action sparked a spur of debate amidst sports fans and political activists. Kaepernick took a knee for unarmed black teenagers like Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown Jr, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray – who never had access to a platform to voice the racial injustices associated with their untimely deaths, and have their stories actually heard. Kaepernick even ignited conversation on how racial injustice is something that needs to be addressed, leading Nike's 30th anniversary, "just do it" campaign.

In 2016, inspired by Kaepernick's message, Megan Rapinoe also took a knee during the National Anthem to support Kaepernick's protest of racial injustice. Rapinoe has been an active proponent of LGBTQ+ representation and gender equity, as she publicly exposed and challenged the gender pay gap between the US Women's National Soccer opposed to the Men's National Soccer team who are considerably paid higher. Today, the median US woman worker makes 83 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart. Black and Latina women workers make 65 and 59 cents for every white male dollar, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Gender pay gaps exist all over the world and in every industry. Consequently, the federal class-action lawsuit, filed against the US soccer federation, alleges that the men's national team earns more than the women's team, even though the women play more games and win more matches.

Taking the knee is not meant to be an anti-American or disrespectful gesture to veterans who fought for the US military – rather a means to bring attention to systemic racial injustice in America. After receiving negative pushback from the media, Rapinoe further responds regarding her choice to kneel, "Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It's important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don't need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that's really powerful." She added, "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."

In an interview with Time Magazine, Rapinoe delves more into depth on why she stands in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick: "It's no secret that we still have very tense race relations in this country. I don't think everybody is as free as everybody else. Until people with the most privilege — and I would consider myself in that group — put our own skin in the game, then things aren't really going to change. And if you aren't putting your own skin in the game, then I think you need to have a look in the mirror and say, "What are you doing? How are you using whatever platform you have, whatever time you have, to help change that? Because I really believe that everybody has a responsibility to make the world around them a better place."

Also, acknowledging that in 2017, being that the Black community racially amounted to 70% of the NFL players – it would be fair to conclude that the NFL would not where it is today without the backbone of the Black community. Therefore, when Black Americans are disproportionately racially-profiled and killed by law enforcement, the least that sports institutions like the NFL – who rely and systematically exploit the physical capacities of black players as a tool to win a game – should do is care, and engage in conversation about how racial differences interplay within and outside the NFL instead of silencing marginalized voices. Ultimately, a football game is not a reason to ignore how racial differences interplay within our day-to-day lives – rather – the spirit and diversity of a football game is the ultimate reason to wholeheartedly stand up for social justice and equity for all.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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