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Dear White Male Liberal Soccer Fans

Dear White Male Liberal Soccer Fans:

There’s a conversation we need to have about a group within your ranks. The bros. Only, they don’t think they’re bros.

On Sunday, September 10th two fans had rough experiences with security entering the stadium. Brian Larsen was racially profiled. Brynn Baker was called a bitch. There were other incidents, but these two were very personal and demeaning. I believe both of them are telling the truth. Most people within the local soccer community want an environment that welcomes inclusion.  Some demand it. But their demands are anything but inclusive: bros engaged in the very behavior they condemned.

The terse statement from the Club was a disappointment, but here are a few things you should know:

  • Small statements do not mean a small investment into an issue and large statements do not mean large investments into an issue.
  • They’re short likely because they’re all that will be allowed by the legal minds.
  • What you want to hear will not be allowed. (confirmed 9.19 – the Club has no plans to make a more elaborate statement. confirmed again 9.26, personnel used the term “handcuffed for legal reasons”).

In my opinion, the fact that this was a joint statement instead of a Club statement might also indicate that there could be contractual language that prevents the FO from speaking singularly now.

Shortly after posting the joint statement, Council’s Executive Leaders posted this reaction, which wasn’t nearly angry enough for the bros. We had watched social media all day, we watched people whip each other up into a snarling mess.  We had no intention of stirring that up further and sending people, mad with rage, hurtling toward the gates: because what could possibly go wrong?

When this group wants a witch hunt, it will have one, and this isn’t the first time: they harassed the hell out of account managers over absent livestream (including threats and challenging their sexuality). I’ve experienced the same over electronic Matchpasses, clear bags, and our team’s record.

The bros say they want an atmosphere of inclusion, where everyone can feel welcome. Yet, in one twelve hour period, their behavior was so bad that other women identified it as abusive.  While people were snapping online that all should feel safe and comfortable within this soccer community, they were stirring up a level of unrest that put my safety at risk.  Know why?  They declared themselves right at the expense of others – and it felt good to them.

Is that fostering an atmosphere of inclusion? I don’t feel safe in this community. Women saw it and did wellness checks on me.  One asked if she could call someone to stay with me. This is serious shit, people.

By now, some of you have already written my comments off as overreaction, or ‘tough – you took the position so put up with it.’  Well that’s just more of the problem.  I’m tired of minimizing.

You’re rightfully upset at the security staff for demeaning and insulting people as they entered the stadium, escalating situations unnecessarily, profiling, and getting politically judgmental. I have no argument. I’m upset with it too. My argument is with the people within our soccer community who do that to others or whip up frenzy such that they create exactly the same thing.

In one twelve hour period, I was demeaned, verbally attacked, someone decided my politics (incorrectly) and began insulting and attacking the opinions they invented: all this from white men.

Have I always been perfect? Of course not. I’ve apologized, and I’ve deleted things I should not have said.  But this bit? This is an ongoing predictable issue, and in this case it’s a near mirror of the behavior being condemned.

If it’s predictable, why didn’t I just explain the likely legal position of the Club to those angry guys?  I did.  Here were some of their responses:

          I know that.
          Fuck you, you’re not telling me anything I don’t already know.
          Shut up.
          I’m not new.
          You’re a waste of time.
          Someone needs to threaten you.  <-it happens each year, jackass.

One person wrote a sample PR statement that the Club “should” have made. Great – sounded awesome.  But PR wasn’t invited to the conversation for specific legal wrangling reasons: any attorney worth half a nickel is going to take an after-the-fact statement and twist it into an accusation.  But you know that, you’re not new, I need to shut up, I’m a waste of time, and someone needs to threaten me – right bros?  Since they’re experienced and knowledgeable, I have assumed the intentions to be malicious, and the messages that were triggered were exactly the impact they expected.

Nothing within this faction of the community is simple, not even statements. It would suck if someone who deserved to be fired got an attorney and a fat payout because people kept amplifying when quiet can prevent a fat payout. That would be horrible injustice for Brian Larsen. You’re all smart enough to figure this out. We made a non-inflammatory statement because we want a solution more than we want angry amplification.  The solution is going to require unimpeded investigation. But the bros don’t want that.  I’m not sure they even remember the notion of justice for Brian – they just want to be right and make me and the FO wrong. If the bros get to enjoy some hits of being the “big man” along the way, they’ re happy. This behavior is the reason the term “social justice warrior” is not a compliment. Two weeks later, the bros are actively inventing their own stories about what is or is not happening (that’s called lying).

 “I never said anything insulting.” If I asked you to stop copying me, and you ignored my boundary: you’re included. If you filled the space with made up bullshit, you’re included. If you intentionally whipped people up instead of committing to inclusion: you’re included – because this behavior is what the bros in the community consistently do and there is nothing inclusive about it.

Now go ahead – ask me why people don’t do more on Alliance Council.  Ask me why the FO has “so much” turnover in their account manager positions. It might be you, bro.

 

postscript: Each year since becoming President, I’ve dealt with sexist attacks. Every man I’ve dated has asked me to give it up because of the emotional toll it takes on me, and women ask me if it’s really worth it (it isn’t).  But I know we’re better than this, and we can commit to a future better than what we can imagine. Here’s why I do it – take a look at this kid’s face:

photo by Sounders FC from the 9.10.17 match

Venezia

Photo by Stephanie

November 1, 2007

 

By Stephanie

 

She is the beautiful actress.  Though years past the peak of her most magnificent glory, she gets up every day and prepares her elegant face for guests.  She is torn between her aches and pains which worsen daily and her need and desire to be in the spotlight.  She has to be stronger today than in younger years, and her challenges grow each passing year.   Desperate for the tourist dollar, she welcomes the cruise ships that poison her waters and flood her islands.

 

She is tremendously rich and desperately poor at the same time.  She is beauty, she is strength, she is magnificence, and she is fantasy.  The very elements she needs to exist are drowning her – how much longer until she slips away in sadness?

Pinocchio

photo from italymagazine.com
photo from italymagazine.com

 

By Stephanie

 

November 1, 2007

 

“Signorina, are you sure?  You wish to buy this in Spanish?”   He had me at signorina,  he could’ve called me signora, like everyone else had.

 

“Oh no! Thank you for looking!  I thought I had picked up one in Italian.”

 

“Italian?  Bella, you wish to buy the book in Italian?  Do you read Italian?”

 

“No, signore, I do not read Italian well.  But my mother read Pinocchio to me, and I’d like to buy her a copy in Italian as a gift from my trip.”

 

He lit up like one of the beautiful Venitian lights.  “Did you know that Pinocchio came from Italy?  It is our story, it does not belong to Walt Disney! Your mother read this to you in Italian!”

 

I did not correct him, for the memory I have of my mother reading me this book is indeed Walt Disney’s version.  But his joy was so contagious that he just didn’t need to be burdened with the truth.  He dug through his many versions of the children’s tale, and sorted through the different languages.  Triumphant when he found the last Italian copy, he announced his discovery with fanfare for dramatic effect.

 

After we completed the transaction,  he adjusted his little glasses and lovingly wrapped the storybook in paper and then sealed it with stickers from his shop.  He presented it to me as if it were the last and most special holiday gift under the tree.   We said our farewells, and wished each other well —  and we really meant it.   I think about him and his delight often, and I hope my mother enjoys the book.