Ep. 1: Leaving It All On The Field with Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe decided to expand her lane beyond the soccer field that made her famous — and a world champion. Now, inspired by activists like Colin Kaepernick and the Ferguson protesters, she’s using her platform to champion causes like equal pay for women, racial justice, and civic engagement. Megan opens up about difficult conversations with relatives whose political beliefs discount her own humanity, and explains how anyone—yes, anyone!—can participate in activism. Plus: Why it’s so important to celebrate the journey as we fight for big wins.

You can find Megan on Instagram here and Twitter here.

Learn:

Watch | Seeing America with Megan Rapinoe on HBO

Watch | On The Basis of Sex to learn more about the history of gender discrimination

Read | Unbossed, A Black Domestic Worker Agenda to learn more about the intersections of race, gender, and class in wage inequality and labor protections

Act:

Buy | Pre-order Megan’s upcoming book, One Life, from your local independent bookstore

Take Action | To #SaveThePostOffice with Megan & Athletes For Impact

Take Action | Become a poll worker

Vote:

You know who’s going to be voting this year? Everyone.
Triple check your voter registration today via US Soccer

Transcript

Ai-jen Poo:

Welcome to Sunstorm, where we get real about what’s happening in the world and what we are doing about it, because we are the light in the storm.

 

Alicia Garza:

Hi, I’m Alicia Garza.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And I’m Ai-jen Poo.

 

Alicia Garza:

And we’re back for season two of Sunstorm.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Ah, I have missed doing this with you, and I’ve missed all of our Sunstorm fam. And I’m so excited to be back.

 

Alicia Garza:

I am so pumped. This is a really wild time to be alive, my friends. We have a global pandemic on our hands. We have a rebellion unfolding across the globe. We are facing a presidential election. And we’re all trying to figure out how to do the work we need to do, how to do it well, and how to win. So, that’s what this season of Sunstorm is all about.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

It is all about winning all the time. And we’re going to be talking about what that looks like in terms of our roles, we’re going to be talking about finding our lane. Because we all have one, and rolling up our sleeves and getting in there is how we’re going to move the world forward.

 

Alicia Garza:

Our next guest is definitely moving the world forward. One soccer championship, one equal pay fight, one talk show at a time, all with one, give no fucks take no prisoners attitude, Megan Rapinoe.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Wow, thank you. That’s quite the intro. I am bringing you guys everywhere with me.

 

Alicia Garza:

So look, we’re in the middle of all kinds of crises. I mean, I don’t think that 2020 could have been any weirder, and it just continues to get more weird. So, let’s just talk pandemic really quick. I mean, how have you been faring? What’s been going on? How are you braving quarantine, pandemic, physical distancing, and all the things?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

I was actually in a soccer tournament when it kind of started kicking off. Sue, my girlfriend… We live in Seattle, so she was actually in Seattle when the Kirkland nursing home facility sort of breakout happened. So, she was kind of in it right from the beginning, which actually was a blessing really, because it was very real very soon. We spent most of quarantine on the East Coast in Connecticut, by the time we got back there, I think it was March 9th, or 10th, so it was basically two days before the shutdown. We’re very lucky we had a place to stay and our jobs kind of got shut down, but we were still able to do a lot. So, we have never spent that much time together, we still like each other, so that’s a positive!

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Great sign.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

But yeah, just from the beginning, we sort of took the attitude of, this is obviously happening, it’s very serious. And we pretty much stayed in quarantine until we got to the WNBA bubble where we are now in Florida, but we’ve pretty much been staying in. I don’t want to get it. I don’t want to spread it. I don’t want to be part of that problem. And we’re lucky enough to be able to stay home and shelter in place. So, we’re doing that.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s a real thing. And I always say Miss Rona is playing no games with any of us.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Ooh, she ain’t playing no games.

 

Alicia Garza:

No games.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

She’s like, “You, you, you, you and you, I got you.”

 

Alicia Garza:

Exactly. She’s like, “Oh, you tried it, let me finish it.”

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Mm-hmm.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

But you’ve also had just a lot going on even as you’ve been sheltering in place, with new shows on Quibi and HBO, and Instagram series, and a book coming out this fall. How are you keeping up with it all?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Yes, I mean, thank God for the internet. I’m not sure, I would have just been sheltering in place and staring at the wall. Lucky in that sense, we were able to do all kinds of things, especially in the beginning of the pandemic prior to George Floyd and the protests. It was like, how can we participate in this? So, it was like, yes, some serious conversations. I had a conversation with AOC about the first stimulus package and different conversations. Then part of it was like, can we bring some lightness? People are really struggling, and it’s hard. This is such an immediate change. And not just put pause button, but a stop button on society, really. So, trying to sort of do different things to keep ourselves kind of busy and bring some lightness and some fun to people. 2020 has been insane and there’s been a million things going on. And so, just trying to roll with it and continue to make some change if we can.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Well, most recently, I saw you on the DNC interviewing a circle of essential workers, and it was so, so powerful. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Yeah, something I’ve actually just sort of randomly gotten into. Since quarantine, I feel like I have all of these questions for people, that’s why I had that conversation with AOC, I had a conversation with W. Kamau Bell. I had a conversation with Joe Biden. I’m just a normal citizen who has this incredible platform. And so, if I have these questions, I know that everyone else does as well, or a lot of people. And so, that sort of sparked it. And I got this amazing opportunity to not only be a part of the DNC, but to have a conversation just listening to their stories and what they’ve been through, what they think we should be doing, what they think we could be doing differently. How all of these decisions from the federal government, the Trump administration, Republicans, what are the real life effects of that?

 

We sort of hear about it, but in the hospital rooms, what does it mean when we can’t get our supply chains together, and we don’t have masks, and we don’t have PPE, and all those things? So, it was really an incredible opportunity to participate in the DNC than just be able to talk with just national heroes, in my opinion.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Absolutely.

 

Alicia Garza:

Speaking of your story, of course, we were doing some research on you-

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Of course.

 

Alicia Garza:

And I saw that we have a number of different things in common. One, you grew up in Redding, California, I have family there.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Really?

 

Alicia Garza:

Yes, yes, indeed.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Wow, okay.

 

Alicia Garza:

Longer story, but we’ll talk about it. But one of the things that has really moved me actually, over the last year or so, is how public you’ve been about your story, and in particular, the story of your brother, who has been dealing with the criminal system for a few years now. And you’ve talked a lot about how that’s inspired you, and inspired your activism. And so, I’m hoping that you can share some of that story. We have a whole thing here at Sunstorm about finding your lane, right? And you have a lane as being an athlete, and entertainer, and an activist, and so I’m hoping you can round that out for our Sunstorm listeners.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Yeah, definitely. So, I grew up in Redding, California. It’s a relatively small town hit very hard by drugs in the mid ’90s and 2000s, certainly hit hard by the financial crisis and collapse in 2008. My brother, Brian was, I think, 15, so I was 10 the first time that he had his sort of first interaction with law enforcement, the criminal justice system, he got caught with drugs at school. And being a 10 year old, I was just like, “First of all, what are you doing doing drugs? And what are you doing bringing them to school?” And not really understanding anything about the criminal justice system, just knowing that this was a bad thing, he got arrested, and unfortunately, still kind of caught up in drug use. And really, he needed drug rehab and therapy and resources, for that, he didn’t need the criminal justice system.

As I’ve gotten older and watched his journey, and been a part of his journey through all this, and really understanding the major flaws of the criminal justice system… I mean, he’s been in Pelican Bay and Susanville, and some of the worst prisons in California, and to see what that’s done to him and to see how it just swallows people up. And I’m from the same family that he’s from, we had the same upbringing, same roof, same parents, same love, same attention, same everything, and so just my sort of process of understanding, okay, drug addicts aren’t bad people, just really understanding the problems and deficits in our criminal justice system.

And then, as I’m getting older, understanding… My brother was swept up in this, in the drug laws and all of that, but these laws disproportionately affect black people and people of color. And he’s still a drug addict. And so, after all of these years, it’s been almost 20 years that he’s been in this system, it’s done absolutely nothing to address the problem of why he keeps going into prison, and so something is amiss here. And so, I think all of those have helped to inform me of the problems and the trappings of the criminal justice system. And, then I learned about racism, and pay equity, and sexism, and homophobia, and all these things, and so I feel like that’s really where my activism kind of converges. I’m a soccer player that play on a very popular team, a team that gets to represent America all the time, not only domestically but abroad. And so, we have this platform.

And so, I just felt like we look to our athletes as role models all the time. It’s like, be good for the kids and say the right thing for the kids, and act the way you’re supposed to act for the kids, or act the way we want you to act for the kids. So, I was like, “Oh, well, I’m going to teach the kids about activism, and teach the kids about racism, and teach the kids about homophobia, and pay equity, and all of it.” If this is the platform that I have been given, and that has been partially built by me, but built by so many other people, then this is my responsibility, this is my lane. I have this microphone, I’m able to be in front of the media, or to be at the Olympics, or be at the World Cup.

And so, I just felt like this was the best effective way I could use and leverage the popularity that I had to talk about things that have affected me personally, if we’re talking about my brother, or things that I have just seen in other people, and I can see in our society, and just say, “I believe them, and maybe they don’t have the voice that I have.” And so, I can help to be that voice for people.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

That’s so, so powerful.

 

Alicia Garza:

So powerful. Jinx!

 

Ai-jen Poo:

I’ve heard in other interviews where you talk about how you started to realize the power of your platform and the power that you have in 2016, 2017. Was there something that happened in that time that really catalyzed that realization?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

As I got a little bit older on the team after having come out, seeing the positive impact of that right before the Olympics, and then being able to just participate in the Olympics as my full self, I found that really powerful for me. Fast forward from 2012 to 2014, we have the horrific murder of Mike Brown, and so obviously, Alicia I feel like I owe so much to you and Opal, and Patrisse, you guys sparked a revolution really. And so, learning about that, learning about the politics and the policing just in that small town of Ferguson, educating myself on that. And fast forward into the summer of ’16 is just… I mean, I don’t even know what words to put on that, just incredibly violent, and just sad, and just kind of horrifying in so many ways of… That kind of sparked me.

The WNBA players were talking out. And Minnesota Lynx I think, were some of the first players to talk about that. Maya Moore and their coach Cheryl Reeve, and Rebekkah Brunson, and Sylvia Fowles, they were all talking about it, speaking up about it. We have Colin Kaepernick, obviously, very shortly after that. And I think at that point, it was just like, I cannot… I see this happening, I’m watching the way he’s speaking about it. And then, I’m watching the way everyone is speaking about him speaking about it. And that doesn’t match up at all. We’re not talking about the flag, we’re not talking about disrespecting the military, he’s obviously sitting there very peacefully. And we’re talking about black and brown people being brutalized and terrorized in their own communities. And obviously, if you know anything about this country, we’re founded on chattel slavery, so it’s not really far off. It’s not a big surprise that this just kind of, by another name, has progressed into sort of where we are.

And I just feel like it became this moment where I was like, I cannot not  talk about all this other stuff. And just in general, as a citizen of this country, I just feel like we have a huge portion of our population who’s treated differently, brutalized, and over policed, and mass incarcerated, and forced into poverty, and just as a human being, I just feel like there’s no way that… I feel like I have this platform, and we have this incredible gift of being able to be in front of people and microphones and represent America. And I was like, “If I’m going to represent America, I’m going to represent everyone.”

 

Alicia Garza:

I love that. So, look, you are so deeply politicized in this moment and super clear about what your lane is and how to use it. And we hear from people all the time who are just like, “I don’t even know where to start.” So, what’s your advice for people who have issues that they deeply care about, like equal pay or racial justice? What advice would you give to folks about how it is they can find their own lane?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

I think the first thing I would say to people is that our whole lives are political because we live in a republic, we live in a country, we have a government, and nobody wants to live in just an anarchist free for all. So, we had this, we have stop signs, we have crosswalks, we have a fire department, we have whatever it is that’s political. And so, politics is engaging with you, whether you’re engaging with it or not. And so, the more you engage with it, the more the politics will reflect what you need and what you want. And if you bring that out, obviously, what your community wants, what your community needs, what your city needs, what your state might need, whatever it is. And so, the more you have that civic engagement, the more it works for you, instead of you constantly feeling like it doesn’t work for you. And I think you can get involved and you can do something.

Now, some people are very outspoken and confident and are comfortable having the microphone in their hand, they should do that. Some people are just not, they would be much better as organizing in a different way. Or maybe you’re a lawyer and you can do pro bono hours or whatever it is. But I really do think that there is something for everyone. I think we all have a responsibility to make the world a better place in whatever way we can be most impactful. And so, no amount of involvement is too small. If you have one hour a month, one hour a year, it’s better than not doing anything at all. We’re coming up to election, that might be making sure you’re registered to vote and making your plan to vote. As we know, Postal Service mail-in balloting is difficult right now, and trying to be made more difficult. So, can you prepare yourself? Can you prepare five other people? Can you prepare your family, your friends, whoever it is?

Just those little things, I think, in starting to make civic engagement part of your daily life, part of your daily habit, I think, can help. Because if you just look at it like, “Oh my God, how do I fix the criminal justice system or healthcare? Whoa, nobody can do that on their own, but maybe you start going to meetings and getting involved. And just being involved in that civic process, I think, it’s really important.

 

Alicia Garza:

Literally, the best articulation of how to find your lane in the entire season of Sunstorm. I got to give it to you. You get-

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Thank you.

 

Alicia Garza:

… trophies and medals for that one.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

It’s true. Megan wins. And speaking of winning, we have a slogan on the show, which is basically that winning is self care. We are organizers who like to win-

 

Megan Rapinoe:

I like that.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And clearly, you do too. And we’ve heard you talk about how important it is for women to fully own and celebrate those wins. How do you define winning? And why is it important for us to celebrate our wins?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

The journey is always really important to me. I mean, obviously, you get to the end and you win, and I think being in sports, that’s the best thing, you get to hold the trophy, and only one team or one person gets to do that at the end. But all along the way, you can have little wins, and I think it’s really important to celebrate those along the way, celebrate all the times that you overcame something, or even your failures, you obviously learned from them, and keep going. I think there’s this… I don’t even know if it’s a misconception, but this thing in society where it’s like, each individual knows that we struggle and we mess up all the time, and yet there’s this sort of societal standard, that you have to be perfect all the time. And every individual is like, “Ah, this is wack, but this is what society is telling us.” And so, kind of getting rid of that and really trying to just get better every day I think is really important.

And then, for women, I think, we’re so often made to try to just shove into this tiny little box. It’s like, be confident, not too confident. It’s like, be great, don’t be better than them. Stick up for yourself, well, don’t challenge men. And it’s just like-

 

Ai-jen Poo:

It’s impossible.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

It’s impossible, you can never win. And so, I just feel like giving yourself that space, and giving your other female friends and other people that space to celebrate the things they do well is just so important, and kind of just this Judo mind trick we need to do with ourselves. Let it all out and let yourself be as big as possible.

 

Alicia Garza:

Megan, honestly, I feel like we just need to be homies, because-

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Yeah, exactly.

 

Alicia Garza:

… this is excellent. This is excellent.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Can we please just be homies? So, bear with me for a second. In the course of preparing for this show, I learned that your family is actually quite conservative. And you’ve talked a lot about how you figured out the balance between restoring and keeping your bonds, but also pushing, right? And it really resonated with me. I have a progressive side of my family, and a gun-toting Trump side of my family. And I actually even had an experience with a family member recently where they were super down with Black Lives Matter, until something happened. And then, all of a sudden, they had this whole narrative about me and Black Lives Matter being racist against white people, which is a much longer conversation.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

There’s no such thing as reverse racism, it doesn’t fucking work.

 

Alicia Garza:

I’m mind blown. I have no idea what that means. So, listen, I know our listeners are also dealing with this experience where there’s a point in our lives relatively, frequently, where we’re coming up against family members who we love and deeply care about, and deeply love and care about us, who actually think very differently about how the world works, and why it works that way. And sometimes, it’s in contrast with what we believe, and what we know, and what we experience. How do you navigate that?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

It is hard, it really is. My family, I feel like we do always try to come from a place of love. We try to let each other speak and we hold each other’s views. I mean, sometimes we just get to the point where it’s like, we were definitely going to agree to disagree. And I just feel like for me, it’s my family, I love them, I will always love them, they will always love me, there is that baseline. But it’s really difficult. And I’m not going to ever shrink myself or not say my views, and they feel the same, we have a pretty outspoken family, and so sometimes it gets heated. But there are some baseline humanity things where I’m like, “Your belief is infringing upon my humanity, or someone who you support is infringing on my humanity.”

And so, almost coming at it from that perspective of, this is me as a human being, this is how it affects me, this is why I feel this way… I mean, we can go into the larger society context of everything, but just taking that personal stance of like, this is why I believe, and then being able to articulate that and being able to talk with people. Because it’s like, just because it’s a belief that someone has, doesn’t mean there’s no consequences to it.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Some people in Nazi Germany believe that what they were doing is right, that doesn’t make it right, and that doesn’t mean that you just carte blanche, get to just have this belief when it’s harming other people.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

That’s right.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

I don’t know if I really gave people advice, but I just feel like being open to the conversations, always coming with facts, and giving the human perspective as well. I’m a gay woman in this country, that means something. And my experience is different than yours. And you may not understand the discrimination that I feel, but if I’m telling you this, there’s either two options, you either believe me, or you don’t. And if you don’t believe me, you think I’m lying. So, it’s like, do you think I’m lying about my experience? Or do you believe me? And maybe that goes against what you believe, but now we can have a conversation about it.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

I think that’s so important, because if there’s one thing that we’ve learned is that there’s what’s factually true, and then there’s what’s emotionally true. And they’re not the same, but both are shaping people’s choices and shaping the world around us. And I think what you’re saying about coming with both the facts and the human perspective of like, hey, human being to human being, this is what I’m telling you, it’s my reality, is actually tapping into that piece of our emotional lives that I think we have to just kind of go there if we’re going to make any real progress. I also really want to make sure that I have the chance to talk to you about equal pay, because you’ve been such an amazing leader on this issue, and it’s so important to me and Alicia.

Working with domestic workers in particular it’s like the angle on it, which is that they’re also entire segments of work in our economy, that because they’re associated with women and women of color, specifically, are totally devalued as work. We can’t even get people to recognize domestic work as work, they still call it help, right? And it’s the same root issue of, some people’s lives and contributions are valued less in our economy.

And it shows up as unequal pay, it shows up as devaluing domestic work, it shows up in all these ways. So, tell us from the frontlines, what’s happening with the Equal Pay Movement, and where is it going to go next, and how do we get involved?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

We had a summary judgment by a judge, and basically what he ruled on was, essentially, over this course of period, the dollar amount for what we made versus the men’s team was pretty similar. I think we actually, dollar for dollar made more. We played more games, we won two World Cups, we won virtually every game that we played.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Yes, you did.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

We captured probably… I’m just sort of spitballing here, but probably 80 to 90% of the total ability in our contract. We essentially, performed three times better than the men, and we just barely out earn them. So, it’s kind of the idea of working twice as many hours and making the same amount of money.

And he also said that we negotiated our contract and now we’re basically saying like, “Well, it didn’t earn us as much money.” And so, now we’re going back on, and now we want their contract, because our structures are a little bit different, which in reality, we asked for the exact same structure with the exact same compensation. And we got back a line item, every single line item was lower. And so, we did ask for the same. It’s like, they started negotiating in the boardroom, we started negotiating in the parking lot, that’s the difference. And so, no one just goes in, he’s like, “Oh, yeah, I’ll take this lower contract. That’s great.” No. We knew at the time, that this wasn’t the same and it wasn’t equal, and it was like… We felt we either strike, or we take it and try to find some wins in it and continue to go, like women always do basically, and people who are discriminated always do.

It’s like, we couldn’t afford to do that at the time. We couldn’t strike at the time. We didn’t have that ability in our membership, and it just wasn’t the right time. So, he ruled on that and basically just said, “The Equal Pay is kind of out the window because you chose your contract, and you also made more.” Even though we had just won so much more. And then, there was a couple other of claims that he left to go to trial. Stuff about the way we travel, charter flights, hotels [inaudible 00:26:05]. So, those are still waiting to be either settled or ruled on. COVID has thrown a big wrench in it because we can’t have a trial date, and all that. So, that’s where that is.

Once those separate claims are either settled or go to court, then we can appeal the bulk of the Equal Pay lawsuit, which is all of the financial part, and that’ll go to the ninth circuit. So that’s kind of where we are now. I mean, I still feel as confident as ever in our case. I know that we were discriminated against, I’ve lived it every single day, and all the numbers shake out exactly that way. It’s just now, unfortunately, going to take much longer. And I think the most disappointing part was, I felt that the court really, really just dismissed and did not appreciate what discrimination is.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Megan Rapinoe:

And so, if I could have gotten the same contract that would have earned me three times more money, I’m not stupid, I would have gone and got that.

You’re left in that position where you’re like, “Am I going to take this job for less money, because I do need this job? Or am I going to create a sink in all this?” So, it’s frustrating, but I still feel great about the lawsuit, and we’ll get there eventually.

 

Alicia Garza:

I mean, here’s what’s so fascinating about this, what you just talked about in terms of the judge not understanding discrimination is so critical. And obviously, this is a male judge who is delivering this decision.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Yeah, a white male judge. Yeah.

 

Alicia Garza:

And being like, “It’s your problem.” This is exactly what we’re talking about when we talk about intersectionality, right? And Kim Crenshaw really detailed this for us two decades ago where she basically broke down all of these court cases where people who were bringing lawsuits around discrimination were being denied because the court couldn’t understand how you could be experiencing discrimination on a whole bunch of levels. What’s important for people to understand, that are listening, is that this is basically true for women’s teams, right? This is also happening with the WNBA, and of course, we’re seeing these kinds of overlaps, right? Where there’s challenges based on race, based on gender.

And you’ve also said, nobody wants to talk about the fact that there’s also a dimension here around sexuality that people aren’t actually bringing into the conversation. And it has real world impacts. So, can you talk a little bit about that for our listeners who are like, “I hear intersectionality being thrown around a lot, but how does that relate to what we’re talking about here?”

 

Megan Rapinoe:

So, I always think about our team like if we were a business or a product or something, and it’s like, if you’re a business, they were a startup, and you receive less funding, and you receive less marketing, and you hire not only less people, but less talented people, the team is amazing but everything else around it… If it’s a business and we’re trying to run a business, yes, we’re playing soccer, but we’re also running a for-profit business. If all of those things are under resourced, obviously, one is going to make more money, one is going to have a better business model and be more profitable.

And then, if you take it even into the context of selling… Obviously, dating Sue and being around the WNBA so much in the last four years, and then coming to this moment with them, it’s always kind of been this undertone thing of, they’re black, they’re tall, there’s a certain percentage of them that are gay. So, then we go out into society and we try… Even if you are the best people around us, if you’re trying to sell that product and all the public sees… Because all we’re told is women who are pretty and white and smaller, like the Women’s National Team, we’ve actually, standing in stark contrast to the WNBA, a traditionally white cute, girl next door kind of business model, people can get more on board with that. But you’re trying to sell a league that is 80% black and however much percent gay, and this is the way that they look.

And so, now we have this whole societal thing of like, well, that’s not what we’ve been told is cool, and that’s not what we’ve been told is pretty, or interesting, or exceptional, or beautiful, or worth supporting or going to. And so, then you have that whole issue plugged into it. And then, you also have… I feel like kind of traditionally with the WNBA, they sort of try to push this feminine narrative. And we all know, if you’re not authentic, you ain’t shit. You’re not going to sell.

You either are who you are, the consumer is very savvy, whether they know it or not. But on a broad scale, the consumer is super savvy. And so, if you’re not giving them something that’s authentic and something that makes sense, and these really dynamic women, and characters, and teams, and all of that, then you’re just underselling the league completely. And so, I think now, with the WNBA, they had an incredible CBA negotiation, and they’re in sort of a reset of the relationship with WNBA and the players. And they’re really just leaning into who they are, particularly in this moment, they’re like, “Yes, we are black LGBTQ, beautiful, strong women.”

 

Alicia Garza:

Yep.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

And in this moment, I feel like they’re really getting their due, they’re able to stand up and say, “Yes, you should follow us. You should look to us for guidance.” I mean, just watch the game, it’s like you can’t watch 10 WNBA games and call yourself a basketball fan, and be like, “Oh, I don’t like it. It’s just not as good.” It’s just like, if you actually watch it, and if you actually invest in it-

 

Ai-jen Poo:

It’s amazing.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

… it’s amazing. And so, it’s kind of all of those things, and that’s where the intersectionality for me comes into it, is like, if you are under-representing, and under-supporting, and under-resourcing, how are the businesses supposed to be successful?

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Man, I feel like we need Megan explainers on every issue.

 

Alicia Garza:

Yeah, totally.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

I mean, you can hold series, maybe Quibi could do it. It’s like Megan Explains This.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Come on, Quibi, get in there.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

So, one thing Alicia and I noticed is that there’s a ton of overlap in the language we use for politics and sports, like winners, losers, playing defense, playing offense, clinching a victory, and Alicia and I are constantly saying and asking each other like, “Are we doing enough? Are we leaving it all on the field this year?” Because this is the year, right?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Mm-hmm.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

I think that that spirit and some of those metaphors actually really helped focus us. Do you think that that kind of spirit helps activists? Or, what are some of the kind of overlaps between what athletes think about and use in terms of metaphors or tropes, and what activists use, and how they kind of come together in ways that are useful, or not?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

I think there’s so many parallels, to be honest. And it’s interesting that you say that, because I feel like as an athlete, I’m always hesitant to use any sort of sports metaphors. I’m like, “Jesus Christ, can I get out of this metaphor, the cliché?” It’s always like, you go into any locker room, it’s like, work hard and all this things. But it really is. I mean, if we’re talking about activism, which is a never ending fight, it takes your physical strength, if you’re out in the streets, if you’re marching, if you’re protesting. And so, I see all kinds of lines that can be drawn. Particularly, I mean, I just think of just since George Floyd until now, and now we’re in the streets in Wisconsin protesting Jacob Blake and his shooting. It seems so overwhelming all the time.

But I think if you think of it as a whole team, not everyone can play all the time, you’re going to have to take your rest, you’re going to have to do your self-care and continue to educate yourself, and take your shifts, and do things, so that you can continue to show up throughout your career and continue to be better and grow, and hopefully, effect change, and get people not only motivated and out in the streets with you, or in activism in whatever way with you, but hopefully in the hearts and minds of the majority of people.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

So much of wisdom.

 

Alicia Garza:

Megan Rapinoe for president.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Exactly.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

I’m wholly unqualified, but I am certain I am more qualified than what’s happening right now. I know that I can defer to other people and have the smart people do the things that they do best. I know, I could do that.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Yes, you can. We talk a lot, always about what you were talking about earlier, about civic participation. And this is a big election year. And a lot of the women that we work with every day, it’s like, it’s always been a challenge to vote because they work in low wage jobs, where you don’t have the day off to vote, and you work long, unusual hours, and you don’t have childcare, and you’re juggling everything. And I think for a democracy, it’s just not been very democratic.

And so, there’s probably a million reasons, coupled with all the intense voter suppression and chaos and confusion that’s being created in this moment, in the halls of power and in the media, about the elections. So, we’ve really been trying to get the word out of like, it might not be easy, but it is so worth it. In fact, it’s all on the line. And so, how are you talking to people about voting, and what’s at stake this year, and why it’s so important, especially for women to show up at the polls this year?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

I mean, I just feel like for women in particular, it’s like we’re the backbone of this country in every sort of way. If you talk about domestic workers, or you talk about childcare workers, or essential workers, or whoever, it’s like, it’s such a foundation of our country, and those people should be spoken for. Those women should speak for themselves, and they should have a very powerful voice, like you said, in the halls of power. If you want to do something about that, vote, because that’s how we’re going to do it. Yes, we need to be in the streets. Yes, we need to be protesting. Yes, we need to be filling our timelines with the important information and centering black voices, and really focusing on the horrific racial injustice that has happened throughout our entire country. And the way we’re going to get that done is to have someone in office who even cares. And that’s the start.

So, if you want to do something, this is the most important thing that you can do. If you have to choose between protesting and taking that time… Or picking a time to vote and using that, I would say vote up and down the ballot. I mean, we see how important and how impactful someone like Ilhan Omar has been, or someone like AOC, Cori Bush just got in, Jamaal Bowman. It’s like people are taking note, and just normal people are coming into politics, and the establishment is freaked out. We cannot have the average person in politics. This is fucking up the order.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

That’s right.

 

Megan Rapinoe:

So, that’s what I would say, if you want to get involved, if you want to make a change, if you care about Black Lives Matter, we still have people in cages down at the Southern border, if you care about health care, vote. This is the most important thing, and this is the most consequential election, obviously, in my lifetime, but potentially in the history of our country.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Amen to that.

 

Alicia Garza:

Look, amen, ashay, all the things. We’ve got just one more minute left with you. So, I want to end it on a hopeful note. There’s so much swirling around us, it can be really exhausting for folks. What is giving you hope, that is literally, getting you out of bed every morning?

 

Megan Rapinoe:

I think what keeps me hopeful is just people and specifically, marginalized people out in the streets, risking their lives, just still fighting for the soul of this country, really, and fighting for all people. It’s not just one group out there just fighting for themselves, I feel like the most marginalized person is out there fighting for every single person that they possibly can. I’m a very privileged person, I have an incredible platform that allows me to speak to so many people, and it’s like, if that person is out there doing what they’re doing, the essential workers are out here still in industries, the frontline workers are doing everything they can to save people, I can do this.

The soul of America is here, it’s just not in power. And so, I feel like if we get the soul of America, which is just everyday people, into power and effecting policies that will help us all… We are the richest country resource wise, and money wise in the world, or at least one of them. We have the ability to take care of our people, and we do not have to live this way. I think that there’s a better way, and I think that we’re close to being there. But November is very important.

 

Alicia Garza:

Well, I can say we 100% have a Sunstorm crush on you. Thank you so much for joining us today. People can find you at [mpinoe 00:39:56] on all the socials. And winning championships all around the world, giving us your famous Rapinkoe, we’re doing all the things.

And to all you lovely listeners, write to us, tweet us, tell us about how you are making your way through the storm. Follow us @sunstormpod on social media. Tweet us @aijenpoo and @aliciagarza #sunstorm. Keep your mask on and stay safe. And don’t forget, triple check your voter registration status. We cannot wait to hear from you. Until next week, let’s do it.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Bye!

 

Megan Rapinoe:

Bye!

 

Alicia Garza:

Sunstorm is a project of the National Domestic Workers Alliance in collaboration with Participant. Sunstorm is executive produced by Alicia Garza, Ai-jen Poo and Kristina Mevs-Apgar. Sunstorm is produced by Amy S. Choi, and Rebecca Lehrer of The Mash-Up Americans. Producers are Shelby Sandlin, Mary Phillips-Sandy, and Mia Warren. Original music composed by Jen Kwok and Jody Shelton.