This past weekend the National Women's Soccer League started in the form of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, 8 team 23-game tournament with the Orlando Pride withdrawing from the tournament altogether. While scrolling through social media I noticed news about the tournament so I decided to try and catch a game.
As I went back and forth scrolling through twitter and fumbling my way through a CBS All Access subscription (for what seems like my 15th streaming subscription) in order to watch my home team the Washington Spirit take on the Chicago Red Stars I saw a twitter post that spoke volumes.
It was a moment that I wish I could have seen live but the emotions that I felt didn't change. When it came to black female footballers I have always wondered how well they were represented within the American football community. The issues of race always seemed as if it could be a more outspoken issue within women's football but there were so few black footballers on a grand stage to begin with, that the discussion of race just didn't seem to be a priority.
I think back to the time Crystal Dunn-Soubrier, was snubbed for the 2015 Women's World Cup and wondered if the issue with race was a factor to her not being chosen for the squad. Of course, you can argue there were other politics at play but it did make me wonder.
As I come back to the present and asked myself the question, "how well do I think black female footballers are represented within the American football community?" I can come back to this moment and say, "eh, I guess there's something."
Ultimately for me, the idea of speaking out against racism isn't defined by how a nation as a whole perceives it but how those around you do. The idea that Julie Ertz can understand the emotions of Casey Short, to any degree, and can understand that she is hurting is what resonates with me as a viewer and a supporter of this game and these players. It's the fact that maybe her teammates don't understand everything going on with the current events right now, but they are able to understand that on a human level, something isn't right, and that is meaningful.
Then I saw this post;
Clearly you can see the issue with this photo. At first glance, the person standing right beside Casey Short, Rachel Hill, left a statement of her own that couldn't be overlooked. Truthfully the look on Kealia Watt's, face (player on the far left) summed up how I felt when initially seeing this photo, "like, really?"
At first, I felt Rachel Hill standing undermined the #blm movement and that she wasn't with the fight for equality and social justice; all of the feelings that culminate when someone speaks up against something you believe in. But then something clicked in my head and it's an instance that this photograph is unable to convey but the video is.
There's a moment in the video where you see Rachel Hill, put her hand on Casey Short's shoulder which I could only believe to be in consolation for Short's emotions. I asked, "how can you be for one thing and not the other?"
I began to remember just how gray this world is. I started to play different scenarios in my head; "maybe she's in support in the military or maybe it's the fact that she's against the riots." As I mulled these ideas in my head I finally came to the conclusion that maybe her consoling her teammate is just that, her consoling her teammate.
We live in a huge gray area where we can have love for an individual but not a collective. At the same time, we can end up contradicting ourselves in the process. "I stand for those who have served our country under this banner but I am also in support of this person who is suffering by the same country that causes their suffering." It's hard to take a moment like this for what it is but I believe it's a moment that sums up our country as a whole, a country that is and has typically been, divided. Who says that football isn't political?