After years of making national and international headlines for protesting during the national anthem, U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) player Crystal Dunn declared the team “past the protesting phase” in their fight for racial justice as she and her teammates stood for the playing of the anthem on Sunday.
The USWNT took the field on Sunday at the SheBeleieves Cup in Orlando wearing Black Lives Matter jackets, as they have for some time. However, the political demonstrations stopped there as every member of the team stood for the national anthem.
Dunn said USWNT players arrived at a collective decision to stand prior to the game.
I think those that were collectively kneeling felt like we were kneeling to bring about attention to police brutality and systemic racism. I think we decided that moving forward we no longer feel the need to kneel because we are doing the work behind the scenes. We are combating systemic racism. And we never felt we were going to kneel forever, so there was always going to be a time that we felt it was time to stand. I think we’re all proud that we are doing the work behind the scenes and it was just a game that we felt we were ready to move into the next phase and just continuously fight for change.
Dunn stressed that the team is not stopping their fight for racial justice, but instead, moving that effort “off-the-field”:
For me personally, I’ve always felt like I’m a testament to a lot of Black experiences. I am a Black athlete who has often felt like I have not been heard or not been seen and many Black people feel the same way. I think we’ve had those initial discussions, and I feel better about where this team is. But I do think moving forward, we’re prepared to just continue working off the field and continuously having these conversations.
Even though we are choosing to stand, it doesn’t mean that the conversations go away, or they stop. It’s all to say that we are now, I think, ready to move past the protesting phase and actually move into putting all of the talk into actual work.
The team’s decision to halt their protests comes as something of a shock considering the team fought their own governing body, the United States Soccer Federation, to overturn the ban on protesting the anthem.
The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Brazil on Sunday, 2-0.