On Friday, at a rally for a senatorial race in Alabama, Trump issued explosive rhetoric regarding NFL players who’ve chosen to “take a knee” during the national anthem, in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. But it wasn’t just the boys who participated in the biggest NFL protest yet. Below, one cheerleader speaks out.
Trump referred to such players as “sons of bitches” in his speech last week, and called upon NFL leadership to remove them from the field, if not their teams, while suggesting fans boycott games until there is a stop to the demonstrations.
In response, athletes clapped back in unprecedented numbers yesterday, with members of almost every team demonstrating a show of solidarity with Kaepernick. NBA superstars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant likewise weighed in with some choice words for President Trump.
But it wasn’t just about big guys in jerseys. Female athletes also chose to take a stand by taking a knee during the national anthem. Here are a few notable examples:
Raianna Brown, a student at Georgia Tech University, is a former member of the cheerleading squad. She first took a knee last October, posting the photo to Instagram with a caption quoting Kaepernick.
Yesterday, Brown reposted the photo to Instagram and Twitter.
Proudest & scariest moment as a yellow-jacket happened at the same time. Thank you @Kaepernick7 for inspiring to #TakeAKnee to take a stand— Issa Rai (@freeSPIRIT_5678) September 24, 2017
Though Brown is not listed as a member of the 2017-2018 spirit squad, she’s still expressing herself through powerful performance art at the university.
Brown co-founded RAIIN Dance Theater, a company with the “mission…to connect people of all cultural backgrounds by creating art that moves people to think, to find their voice, and to join the conversation surrounding social change, justice and an appreciation of who black people are as a culture.”
In a statement to Girlboss, Brown spoke about her actions, and the current political climate, saying:
“On September 16, 2016, Terrance Crutcher—a Black father, brother, son, and student—was shot fatally by a police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The impact of Mr. Crutcher’s death, along with many others of its kind that year, was palpable in the Black community.
“I kneeled in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick as a statement about the unjust killings of people of color (PoC) in our country. I did not kneel to disrespect the flag; instead, I sought to question the morals of the nation it represents.
When I protested, I joined countless other athletes and artists who have used their platforms to encourage America to become its best self. Although I am no longer on the dance team (due to surgery after a pinched nerve), since my initial protest, I’ve continued to use art as a medium to raise awareness about the injustices my community faces.”
I recently co-founded a dance company, RAIIN Dance Theater. The recent killings of unarmed PoC by police, the inhumane treatment of PoC, and the resulting protests served as inspiration for my company’s first production: “in Human.”
“The piece draws from the literary work of Toni Morrison and the visual aesthetics of Jean-Michel Basquiat to explore the intricacies of movement and influences of social justice within art. The 21st century movement for social justice is not the first of its kind, and I am not the only artist to bring awareness to it. Nevertheless, it would be a disservice for me not to use my platform, no matter how big or small, to oppose unjust treatment. As Nina Simone once said, ‘An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.’”
.@HowardU taking a knee during the national anthem at Nation’s Football Classic:— WPGC 95.5 (@WPGC) September 17, 2016
Prior to Brown taking a knee last October, the entire Howard University cheerleading squad took a knee during the national anthem.
In the WNBA, two opposing teams chose to participate in yesterday’s more widespread demonstrations.
Prior to facing off in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks each showed support for the ideals of Kaepernick’s movement in their own way.
Like Vikings, Lynx link arms for National Anthem at the Barn. Sparks left arena, returned after anthem. Some boos.— Tim Nelson (@timnelson_mpr) September 24, 2017
The Lynx locked arms in solidarity during the national anthem, while the Sparks chose to exit the court during the duration of “The Star Spangled Banner,” only to reenter the arena after it’s conclusion.
The Sparks issued the following public statement yesterday:
Statement by @Nnemkadi30 @cgray209 and @jlav42 on the Sparks players’ National Anthem protest prior to Game 1 of the WNBA Finals— WNBPA (@TheWNBPA) September 24, 2017
This was not the first time the Minnesota Lynx participated in the conversation. The team demonstrated solidarity with victims of police brutality throughout the 2016 season, as well.
Other women of significance who have given their own nods to Kaepernick’s method include Megan Rapinoe, a National Women’s Soccer League player for the Seattle Reign FC.
Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem tonight in Chicago. Says it was intentional, “a nod to Kaepernick.”— John D. Halloran (@JohnDHalloran) September 5, 2016
While fans have had mixed reactions to the protests, the widespread show of solidarity was somewhat unexpected, demonstrating the ability of President Trump’s incendiary comments to garner rebuke, even from high-profile donors such as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.