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Jens Dresling
Foto: Jens Dresling

Brianne Reed posing af the FCN-stadium in Farum.

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When she was 15 another girls father looked at her and said: »What’s that n***** doing in my house?!«

When the whistle blew and the match started, 22 players decided to take a knee in Farum last Saturday in support of Black Lives Matter. The woman behind the initiative was the 26-year-old American footballer from FC Nordsjælland, Brianne Reed. This is her story.

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When I was 15 years old, my friend and I were riding around on our bikes in New Jersey. I was born in New York City, but my parents decided that my sister and I were better off growing up in the suburbs. We lived in a predominantly white neighborhood. While riding our bikes, my friend asked me if we could swing by another girl’s house, so she could join us. I didn’t know her, but I said, yes.

When we arrived, my friend walked into the house first. When I entered, the other girl’s father opened his eyes wide.

»What’s that n***** doing in my house?!«, he said.

I froze up. My senses went numb for a second. That was the first time in my life I was standing across from another human being who said something racist directly to my face. I got scared, turned around, and started running out of the house. He didn’t yell the words, but they were clearly intended for me. Outside, my friend and the other girl were at a loss for words. Most 15-year-olds would feel the same in the situation.

I watched the 8-minute, 46-second long video with George Floyd.

As a black American, it’s almost unbearable to watch. I’ve felt powerless and quite disconnected from the events back home. I was sitting here in quiet Farum with summer fast approaching, while on Instagram, I could see my friends protesting alongside thousands of other people. There were fires in the street of my home state. My country seemed to be falling apart. That frustrated me no end. I had to do something to make my voice heard.

Jens Dresling
Foto: Jens Dresling

Players form Fortuna HJørring and FC Nordsjælland kneeling on saturday june 6th.

I’ve been sitting in my room in Farum wondering why we are seeing this wave of protests around the world at the moment. Racism and police violence have always been part of American history. Typically, these things come and go, spark some debate for a while, but then tend to fade away. This time it’s different. The world is listening now.

The answers I would give to that question would be that racism is being caught on camera more often now than earlier. Everyone could see that the actions of the officers in Minneapolis were wrong.

After the killing of George Floyd, the two girls from the incident when I was 15 years old got in touch with me. They told me that they were sorry they hadn’t said anything. They didn’t know how to handle the situation. They knew better now, and they just wanted to tell me that what happened was wrong. That was such a relief to hear even though it happened more than ten years ago.

Now that racism has reared its ugly head once more, I, like many others, have started to think back on incidents where I have been treated differently just because of the color of my skin. It’s tough being forced to think back and call to mind the people who hurt you.

Jens Dresling
Foto: Jens Dresling

Brianne Reed has been busy on the phone for the past three weeks.

I first encountered racism in youth soccer clubs. To this day, I’ve only ever had a few black teammates throughout my career. In several instances, I wasn’t invited to sleepovers with my teammates. I just figured they didn’t like my personality. When my parents talked to me about racism, I didn’t quite get it. I was just a child. ’My teammates, their parents, and people in my social circle would never treat me badly because of my skin color,’ I thought.

Now I see things more clearly. I was the only one who wouldn’t be invited.

Compared to many other black Americans, I had an easy upbringing in a good neighborhood. When even someone like me has encountered racism, I’m hoping people might realize how widespread racism is and used to be.

My family and hometown mean a lot to me. There was only a 35-minute drive from my college, Rutgers University, to my home. After four years, I was drafted by Kansas City in 2016 and played in the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League). But my main competitor in the role of central defender was a regular for the national team, which meant I didn’t get a lot of time on the field.

I’m a homebody so it’s kind of crazy that I’m living in Denmark right now after spending a few years in Sweden. Before going there, I had never been to Europa. That was a big step for me because I travelled on my own, only 22 years old. This might make them sound like stereotypical stupid Americans, but my friends didn’t know the difference between Switzerland and Sweden. They thought it was the same country, so they asked me to bring back some good Swiss chocolate. I told them that Swedes mainly eat meatballs.

I had resolved to return to New Jersey in 2019 after my time in Sweden. But FC Nordsjælland made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I’ve lived in the hotel right behind the stadium in Farum for a year and a half now. I’m really looking forward to moving to Vesterbro this summer. I consider Denmark my second home now.

Jens Dresling
Foto: Jens Dresling

Brianne Reed has been living in a hotelroom close to the club for almost one and a half year. Now she will move to Copenhagens hip Vesterbro-neighbourhood.

I understand Danish when my teammates write in our Facebook group, but I don’t claim to be an expert on Danish culture just yet. The idea of kneeling had been floating around in the back of my mind for a few days after George Floyd’s death. But I wasn’t sure what would happen if I decided to go through with it. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t played a single game in the NFL after he kneeled back in 2016, and no team wanted to sign him after that. I didn’t know if the reaction in Denmark would be just as severe, and I didn’t have millions in my bank account like he did.

One day I was small talking to some of people at the top in FC Nordsjælland about everything going on in America. One of them told me that the men’s team were considering taking a knee before a game against FC Midtjylland – which they ended up doing. That gave me the stamp of approval and convinced me it wouldn’t be a problem if I decided to kneel.

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But I didn’t want to be the only one doing it.

One day when I was at the beach with one of my teammates, I asked her what she thought about the idea. She was up for it.

»Well that’s one«, I thought to myself.

I wrote a post in our Facebook group explaining why it was important for me to kneel. I wanted to make sure that everybody knew the history behind the protests. I wanted to kneel to honor the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, and all the other black Americans who were killed before them. It was very personal to me. I could just as easily have been among the ones who were shot.

Jens Dresling
Foto: Jens Dresling

Brianne Reed joined FC Nordsjælland in february 2019.

There is racism all over the world, even in the world of soccer. I told my teammates that it was important to take a stand at a time like this. When I explained it in this manner, it occurred to them that that we had to do something, had to support Black Lives Matter.

I was so pleased when my teammates decided to support me, and it just made things even cooler when our opponents from Fortuna Hjørring also joined us on Saturday. We coordinated it in such a way that the men’s team would also be kneeling with the players from FC Midtjylland during a Sunday game.

I got the chills when I was told that we had made history by being the first athletes to kneel in Denmark. I’m so proud of the fact that such a simple and peaceful action can attract so much attention and generate debate about how we treat other people. We are all equal even though our skin color may not be the same. It gives me a warm feeling inside knowing that I can help shine a light on this debate.

I haven’t received any hateful messages after we kneeled. I was a bit worried about how it would be received. Most of my followers are from the U.S. It divided the nation when Kaepernick decided to kneel. Some people felt he was disrespecting the flag and the military.

In the last few days, I’ve wondered how people would have reacted if I had kneeled or posted something about kneeling just a few months before George Floyd’s death. I don’t think I would have received the same amount of positive feedback. And I’m positive that it wouldn’t have generated the same debate and focus on these issues as it did.

News stories come and go. This is the big story right now and at some point it’s going to receive less attention. But I want to do my part and ensure that we keep talking about racism. Otherwise, things are never going to change for the better.

Parents need to talk to their kids about racism at home, so they know how to accommodate all kinds of people.

Miriam Dalsgaard
Foto: Miriam Dalsgaard

15.000 people marched through the streets of Copenhagen on Sunday June 7th in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

I saw an image of a sign from the protest in Copenhagen that said something like racism isn’t just a problem in the U.S. That caught my attention. I’ve been told and I’ve read that there has been a debate in Denmark for many years about whether refugees are being treated well enough. And it also seems like there’s a difference in how white Danes and Danes of color are being treated. So maybe there are also a few things you guys might need to talk about.

I went home to the U.S. because of the coronavirus. When I was on my way back to Denmark, I sat in the Atlanta Airport and thought to myself: ’Why do you do this to yourself? Why are you traveling so far away from your family?’

The second I landed in Copenhagen Airport, I realized why. Life is more relaxing here and I get the chance to pursue my dream. I don’t know how long I’ll be staying in Denmark. But it’s going to be for a lot longer than I had initially thought.

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