Experiences of Social Justice and Anti-Racist Campaigning
”Football and society needs to be anti-racist to ensure that racism is finally “shown the red card” in all walks of life”
I am a firm believer in equality and strongly condemn all forms of discrimination. Following the incidents of police brutality against individuals of colour in the USA which made global headlines last year leading to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement I was inspired to take part in a BLM protest in Brighton. It was incredibly powerful to witness people of all ethnicities, not only in my home city but across the world on the news, take a stand to say enough is enough and that violence and discrimination against people based upon the colour of their skin is not ok and should not be tolerated. I personally have found the global political trends of the rise of the far-right in recent years worrying. I feel it’s important to recognise that these trends and violence against people of colour is not just a problem that happens in other countries such as the USA but also takes place in the UK (“The UK is not innocent”). I have also observed in the press and in general attitudes the different way people of colour are talked about compared to white people. An example of this is the treatment that Megan Markle receives in comparison to Kate Middleton. I feel it’s important to talk about these sorts of issues with people. Furthermore, I call out racism and racist attitudes when I observe them.
One of my passions in life is football. It is the world’s most popular sport and has the power to bring people of all races, ages, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, socio-economic backgrounds and religions together. Football truly can be a driving force for good and often is. However, football has always struggled with racism. Things have improved greatly but unfortunately, racism is still present in the Beautiful Game. The outraged reaction in this country when England players have been subjected to racist abuse from crowds at away international fixtures is totally justified but it’s important to recognise that English football still has a problem with racism. Who can forget the image of Chelsea fans hurling racist abuse at Raheem Sterling. I myself have witnessed racist abuse at a Premier League match. It is promising to see campaigns such as Kick It Out working hard to ensure racism is not tolerated in football. It’s also encouraging to see the Premier League adopting the anti-racist protest of taking the knee first started by Colin Kaepernik in the NFL. I’m glad that this is still ongoing. I recently witnessed a group of boys in the park having a kickabout and starting their game by taking the knee which shows the action is having an impact. It is interesting that Crystal Palace player Wilfried Zaha has stopped taking the knee saying players should “stand tall”, that taking the knee is “degrading” and that it is “becoming something we just do”. It is certainly a valid point that it is not simply enough to appear to be supporting the BLM movement without actually taking action against racism. Conversely, Troy Townsend, Kick It Out’s Head of Development, disagreed and said Zaha’s comments would only be relevant “if there wasn’t racism and underrepresentation in our game”. It is important for football to show it’s making a stand which is why I think that it’s a good thing players continue to take the knee. However, I certainly feel it is not enough to be non-racist. Football and society needs to be anti-racist to ensure that racism is finally “shown the red card” in all walks of life. Show Racism the Red Card is an anti-racist organisation.
This blog was written by Luis Da Silva, a youth careers advisor.