Brilliant Defiance: Megan Rapinoe and AOC Are the Future

Quality Sport Images, Lars Niki / Getty Images; Edited: Truthout

This page would add Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Talib, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley to the brilliantly defiant new guard..

Truthout - July 8, 2019

"... It’s as if they are already living in an alternate United States, where the tyrannical screaming man in the White House is of no importance — Rapinoe, the pink-haired lesbian superstar, will receive her honorable recognition not from the president but from Ocasio-Cortez, the working-class Latinx representative from the Bronx."

Let’s begin, as many political conversations do nowadays, with a tale born on Twitter. On June 25, just days before the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team faced its biggest challenge against France in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup, team captain and star player Megan Rapinoe was being interviewed in a video from Eight by Eight Magazine. When asked if she would be excited to visit the White House should her team win, Rapinoe huffed, almost off-handedly: “I’m not going to the f**king White House” ...

... The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has also eclipsed the men’s team as a lucrative franchise, bringing in more revenue even before the World Cup started. But beyond that, AOC’s propositions sparked thoughts — and fears, I’m sure — of a world where white supremacy and patriarchy do not set the terms of what is important, what is valued, and who is valued. And when Rapinoe meets AOC later this year at the Capitol, we may catch a glimpse of what our nation could — and should — become.

Politics, especially left politics, has had quite a vexed relationship with American sports. International sports, in particular, promote jingoistic displays of patriotism that provoke an allergic reaction in many activists (myself included). But this is soccer. And soccer — an ancient game played in every corner of the world, appropriated and professionalized by British colonialists — has long been a realm of contested politics, and a cultural platform from which liberatory dreams can emerge from oppressive regimes.

Megan Rapinoe, in particular, has used her platform to the fullest. Way before this World Cup, she was the first professional athlete outside of American football to take a knee during the national anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter. An out and proud lesbian, she has championed LGBTQ+ rights on and off the field, even claiming, after scoring two incredible game-winning goals on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, that great sports wouldn’t exist were it not for gay players.

Even now, as the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is engaged in a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation to address pay disparity, Rapinoe regularly takes U.S. Soccer and FIFA to task for their lack of investment and support for the women’s game. Her teammates have stood in solidarity with her outspoken resistance. So, when she said she wasn’t going to “the f**king White House,” her unapologetic rejection of the standard “American Dream” of recognition from a president that oppresses people like her and so many others was fully consistent with her relentless public fight for a different, and better, vision of the world.

In the political arena, Rapinoe’s defiant voice finds harmony with Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive champion on Capitol Hill. Ocasio-Cortez, like Rapinoe, often bucks the social norms and directives of the dominant political culture, speaking forcefully against the repression and exploitation of oppressed people and bearing witness to the realities they face. Both their narratives reset the terms of political debate, and reframe the world along a vision where “of course” there should be equality, and “of course” the routine injustices that pervade U.S. society shouldn’t exist. Both Rapinoe and Ocasio-Cortez speak and act with confidence that their vision of the world is widely shared by their generation, which, more than any other, is staunchly pro-equality, pro-justice and multicultural; who reject a world of crushing inequality ruled by the 1 percent, where wealth and power are overwhelmingly held by older white men. These domineering men shout fire and fury at them, and these young women shrug it off, as if they were simply other people talking, whose opinions matter no more than any other. ...
Read full article at Truthout

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