Crystal Dunn: We need to change the narrative that only white women play soccer

Crystal Dunn of the USWNT
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As the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) prepared for the 2021 SheBelieves Cup (full schedule here), one of the team activities was a viewing of “Judas and the Black Messiah,” a film that chronicles the life – and betrayal – of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton.

Crystal Dunn, a veteran member of the USWNT, says she was thrilled about the film choice.

“There’s a reason we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but we don’t really talk a whole lot about Malcolm X and Black Panthers,” Dunn reflected on a call with reporters ahead of the 2021 SheBelieves Cup. “The Civil Rights movement wasn’t only about holding hands. It wasn’t only about marching…. I think it’s really important that people become educated on matters that they probably weren’t educated on in school.”

Dunn, 28, earned her first national team cap in 2013, made her Olympic debut in 2016, and was a member of the U.S. team that won the 2019 World Cup. Still, she says it’s only in recent years that she’s felt secure with her standing on the USWNT.

“For my first three years on the team, I was [up and down],” Dunn reflected. “I was a bench player, I was not called into [some] camps. My career wasn’t really stable… I wasn’t always secure in my role. I wasn’t always confident.”

[RELATED: As some U.S. soccer players stand, Krieger tells Black fans: “I’m kneeling for you”]

Even in her early years on the team, Dunn says she felt a responsibility to the next generation. “For a long time, there weren’t a whole lot of [Black women] on the team… I’ve always carried myself in a way where I knew I was playing for more than just myself.”

Over the last year, though, Dunn has become more outspoken: both about her position on the field, but also her vision for the sport’s future.

“The face of women’s soccer today is still a white woman,” Dunn explained. “We need to change the narrative that only white women play this sport…. [Being] the face of women’s soccer, that really isn’t my goal. My goal is for the Black women coming after me to feel like they even have a chance to be the face of this sport.”

[READ MORE: 2021 SheBelieves Cup: Alex Morgan discusses COVID, Olympic timeline]

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