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NWSL’s Madison Hammond calls out ‘harmful’ Native American stereotypes

(Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports)

Madison Hammond, a defender for Angel City FC and the NWSL’s lone Native American player, took to Twitter on Tuesday night after NJ/NY Gotham FC captain McCall Zerboni made a racist analogy in her postgame comments Sunday.

Cloud 9, Gotham’s supporters group, said Tuesday that the language Zerboni used was “unacceptable” and that they would be reaching out to the front office directly, with the expectation that Zerboni and the team would address the issue.

Later that day, Hammond addressed Zerboni’s comments in a Twitter thread.

“This has to be acknowledged and is really important,” wrote Hammond. “Not because I want to call out one person but because it’s indicative of how our larger culture continues to perpetuate harmful stereotypes about Native Americans and Indigenous cultures.”

Hammond said she has spoken with Zerboni and knows that she “didn’t intend harm.”

However, the defender continues by saying that certain phrases are “rooted in brutal racism” and still “way too common in our everyday lexicon.”

“As the only Native American in the NWSL I want to start a necessary conversation, because phrases like these make Native Americans feel othered, invisible, and prove there is a lack of understanding and respect for Indigenous culture,” she added. “They may seem harmless, but they’re not.”

Megan Rapinoe, who played with Hammond when the defender was with OL Reign, voiced her support of Hammond’s statement.

“Exactly what needs to be said,” she wrote. “Don’t let not learning and growing and keep you rooted in racism yall. Appreciate you Hamm.”

Zerboni also took to Twitter to apologize for her words, writing: “im sorry if anything i’ve ever said has offended any1. the last thing i would ever want 2 do is hurt someones feelings or make them feel unloved. if u knew me u would know this. i’ve fallen short at this at times im sure but my intent always lead with love.”