Before the Chicago Red Stars played on Saturday night, nearly the entire team kneeled on the field during the national anthem. The camera caught Casey Short in tears while her teammate and captain Julie Ertz embraced her.
Short, a Black player, being supported by her white teammate was a beautiful yet heart-wrenching image, but one with only general context. Neither Short or Ertz offered an explanation for what was going on, and what led to that moment.
That changed on Tuesday when Short tweeted an explanation on behalf of herself and Ertz.
For weeks, we have been asking each other:
What is UNITY?
What does change LOOK like?
What does change FEEL like?
What has followed have been hard conversations. These conversations have been emotional, they’ve been honest, and they’ve allowed us to be vulnerable with each other during this time. And honestly, we still need to have many, many more.
The two of us have always set out to be our honest and true selves, but have struggled to find the “right” thing to do in order to show our truth. We understand people are entitled to their opinions. Often these opinions are presented through the individual’s lens and do not accurately portray how the two of us truly feel.
With that being said, here is OUR narrative. For the past few weeks, we have shared our stories, we have shared a deep empathy towards one another and ultimately, a common sense of hopelessness. This moment of hopelessness was overwhelming for many reasons including, frustration in not having a clear answer for change, the hurt in each other’s voices, and our black teammates and friends who have emotionally poured out every ounce of their hearts to us. All of these intense and emotional moments have been difficult but ultimately very necessary.
The two of us have had the privilege and honor of lining up side by side for the Chicago Red Stars, and have been able to share the experience of lining up together and representing our country on the biggest stage. Representing our country is something we take so much pride in and something we will have a deep connection towards. Currently, every time the national anthem is played, our country continues to become more and more divided on what the visual symbol of unity looks like. Through our continuous conversations we wanted to make sure that whatever we decided to do, it would not be an empty gesture. It would be a gesture that portrayed that we have heard those who needed to be heard, validated and loved. That moment during the anthem was difficult, very difficult. We are still searching but we are humbled by the outpouring of support. Our actions going forward WILL be the change!
I, Casey, can only speak for myself but the conversations I have had with players, specifically Rachel, have been unapologetically authentic. I have to ask where my hope lies. It lies in my faith and those types of conversations that have been long overdue. The types of conversations that are raw and uncomfortable, that can lead to real impactful change.
Our thought process is evolving daily. Where the pain is, our empathy goes. The emotion we feel is responsibility and we want to find our place in the cure together.
We will be the change. PERIOD.
Short revealed the difficult conversations she and Ertz have been having with each other and their teammates over the past month. The weight of those conversations, along with all the work that has to be done to bring about social change and eradicate systemic racism, overwhelmed her during the anthem and led to her supportive embrace with Ertz.
Instead of focusing just on that small moment during the anthem, Short and Ertz chose to frame their explanation around the work the entire team has been doing to better understand and support the struggles of Black players. They emphasized it’s a long journey that will be filled with uncomfortable and difficult moments, but they’re dedicated to pushing forward and seeing it through while supporting each other along the way.
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