Megan Rapinoe, star of the World Cup champion U.S. women's soccer team, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that her national anthem protests are "uniquely American" and that they're all about "standing up for yourself and other people."
The team's co-caption — who scored a penalty shot goal in the final World Cup match against the Netherlands on Sunday — defended her decision to not place her hand over her heart for the national anthem during Tuesday's interview. (Rapinoe previously characterized such an action as an "f-you" to President Donald Trump.)
'Very uniquely American'
"I think that taking care of others, standing up for yourself and other people if they don't have the ability to do so, is very uniquely American," Rapinoe told Cooper during Tuesday's interview. "I think everyone in America would say that, and I think we have a rich history and a pride in saying that, in those words and often times in doing that in the world."
When Cooper brought up those who see her actions as disrespecting the American flag, she countered that "I don't think anybody can deny the horrors of racism and Jim Crow and mass incarceration and ... what's happening on the southern border and gay rights and women's rights" before adding that "I don't quite understand ... where the miss is because I think a lot of the people that disagree with me would benefit greatly from a world that is better for everyone."
Rapinoe also said that while "protest is not comfortable, ever" for those watching it, protesting has been uncomfortable for her as well: "It's gonna to force people to look inward and question ... everything they thought they knew. It's not convenient. It doesn't feel good, really, for anyone — even in those moments kneeling, those were ... some of the most crazy personal moments that I've ever had, but that's what it takes. Progress is hard."
What else did Rapinoe say?
Rapinoe also reiterated her position against going to the White House if Trump were to invite the team, which hasn't happened as of Wednesday morning.
"I would not go, and every teammate that I've talked to expressly about it would not go," she said, adding that "I don't think anyone on the team has any interest in lending a platform that we've worked so hard to build and the things that we fight for and the way that we live our life, I don't think that we want that co-opted or corrupted by this administration."
Previously Rapinoe said "I'm not going to the f***ing White House" after a reporter asked her if she was excited about that prospect should the team take home the World Cup.