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Megan Rapinoe rarely shies away from speaking up on issues of race, equality and gender. As she prepares for a new season with the U.S. women’s national soccer team she continues to use her platform to speak out against recent events and the political climate in our nation.
“As I think, it sets in and I guess we're almost a week out from January 6, which was certainly and will rightfully so live on in the echoes of American history forever,” said Rapinoe as she recounted the pro-Donald Trump uprising in the U.S. Capitol on a video call Tuesday.
The team is at training camp in Orlando, Florida preparing for their first match against Colombia on Monday, and Rapinoe used the first several minutes of the call to condemn the events in Washington, D.C. calling them “very unsettling and scary.”
“It's just striking how horrible it was, and just how insane,” Rapinoe said. "It was from the climate in our country being such that we have our political leaders — our chief political leader — inciting an actual, real life murderous and deadly insurrection against his own government, against his own people, against his own party.”
LEBRON JAMES ON CAPITOL RIOTERS: 'If those were my kind, what would’ve been the outcome?'
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“This is America," Rapinoe said. “Make no mistake about it. I think we showed, very much, our true colors. This is not the first time we've seen a murderous mob like that. Unleashing a white supremacy mob is nothing new to America as people of color, Black and Brown, know that very well."
Despite the current state of division in the country, Rapinoe recognizes how different things are in comparison to four years ago when she first knelt during the playing of the national anthem before a game. She shared how proud she is of teammates pursuing activism throughout the year.
“I’m getting a little emotional talking about it,” Rapinoe said. “I have a huge amount of pride and respect for so many people going through their journey and learning and growing and feeling more comfortable speaking out about things.
“What we saw through the summer and through the pandemic with the protests, hopefully a lot of people’s eyes are opened up. Particularly my fellow white teammates. It is in fact our responsibility to stand in unity with our Black teammates to make them feel that this is an open space to talk about things.
"We are in an incredibly unique situation to be able to represent the United States or America via our sport and have such a cross section of culture, race, sexuality and personalities on this team.”
Rapinoe says that she will have pride wearing the U.S. crest this season and is looking forward to being back on the field after nearly a year since her last appearance.
“The last time I put the crest on, I put it on inside out. I feel like we have come a long way from that," Rapinoe said. "Being able to come back, especially after what we saw last week, to have this team represent red, white and blue and a crest, and an American flag for what we stand for and the future that we are fighting for and inclusion and using our platform to speak out about the right things, it is going to be a really special moment for a lot of us.”
As rioters returned to their hometowns after the Capitol insurrection, social media was flooded with images from the scene and of people who participated in the historical moment. A woman wearing a Trump mask was pictured also wearing a USWNT sweatshirt and Rapinoe shared that that is not the type of fan her and her team will welcome.
This is who we are. White supremacists taking comfort in the USWNT crest is a problem. pic.twitter.com/RrDfLxIJt1
— Gal Pal Sports (@GalPalSports) January 8, 2021
“The U.S. crest is not to be confused with anything that has to do white supremacy, anything that has to do with the Trump administration, anything that has to do with that divisive culture that we saw on the Capitol,” Rapinoe said. “Don’t take any comfort in thinking that the crest is synonymous with that or the red, white and blue or the stars that we have above it.
“We want to create and continue to create a place that’s inclusive and safe and diverse for our fans and for our players to play in front of and for people to watch on TV and for the media to cover. Don’t bring that (expletive) here.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Analis Bailey on Twitter @analisbailey.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USWNT star Megan Rapinoe comments on last week's U.S. Capitol attacks