USWNT’s Crystal Dunn and Jessica McDonald talk being black women in America

Jessica McDonald, USWNT(Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
Jessica McDonald, USWNT(Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images) /

USWNT’s Dunn and McDonald are exhausted, but the days of turning the other cheek are over.

USWNT stars Crystal Dunn and Jessica McDonald are World Cup champions, NWSL champions, and National champions, and that just touches the surface of the awards and accolades they’ve both accumulated over the years.

Former USWNT great, Julie Foudy, sat down with them on her Laughter Permitted podcast to give them the platform to share their stories and help educate herself among others as to what it means to be a black woman in America.

From their childhoods to the present, both Crystal Dunn and Jessica McDonald have felt a daily pressure to act and behave a certain way so as to be role models for black women and children and avoid making the white people around them uncomfortable. They ignored racist remarks on and off the field feeling that to stand up to the racism would only lead to more hurt for them.

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But today they’re fortunate enough to have a voice and a platform their parents and grandparents never had, and they’re using it to speak up and confront racist behavior.

One comment that stood out to me from both athletes was the fact that they were taught as young children about what it means to be black in America and how they’d have to behave, all before they had even experienced racial injustices themselves (or at least before they were aware of being the target of racism). Their parents and grandparents knew the day would come and that is heartbreaking.

Now Jessica McDonald is a mother to an 8-year-old boy who will have to live with the shock of watching George Floyd’s final moments in life play out on his TV screen. Meanwhile, McDonald has to handle the fear of raising a black son in a racially charged environment.

Jessica McDonald and Crystal Dunn have hardly had a moment to breathe and have time to themselves these last few weeks but it’s been worth it for them to keep the momentum of this historical movement going.

Listening to their stories is a powerful reminder that these two women have been forced to become far more than just two ridiculously talented athletes playing the game they love.

It’s inspiring that they’re using their platform to speak out, but they should never have had to speak out in the first place.

They should never have to explain that there’s more to them than their sprint times and muscular legs. As strong black women, they should never have to fear their presence off the soccer field will be perceived as threatening. And they should never have to fight just to experience the feeling that they belong.

Shortly after this podcast aired, US Soccer repealed its policy that forced athletes to stand during the national anthem.

The policy was originally put in place after USWNT’s Megan Rapinoe kneeled in support of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick who kneeled during the anthem to protest black oppression and racial injustice.

Next. Jeremy Ebobisse: Powerful voice on racial injustice. dark

Small changes are being made throughout the country, if slowly, and the momentum absolutely cannot stop here.