The issue runs deep and needs to be countered at every level. That runs the spectrum from those in positions of power that use that power to beat down people who are different to them, all the way to the person who hears a racist comment and walks on by.
We cannot all change the systemic nature by which policing in US Cities is carried out and controlled, but we can act in our small individual way to ensure that no one feels they are treated as a second class citizen as a result of how they look.
Surely we have come this far as human beings.
On Thursday morning we will present our Weekly Live Webinar on the subject of Tackling Ethnicity. We will be joined by All Ireland winning Gaelic Footballer Shairoze Akram and European Medallist athlete Nadia Power, alongside Ken McCue of Sport Against Racism Ireland to discuss how Irish sport is in relation to racism and to start to map a way of making it better at every stage.
This is a society-wide issue. Sport alone cannot find the answer but it has a powerful voice. Sport and race have a long and deeply entwined history. The leadership of sporting stars can provide inspiration for those who are neutral to stand up and call out those whose actions and comments are abhorrent.
Here are eight statements from the modern era and the past that can inspire us all to do more, to be better and to treat everyone as a human being…
Ruth Owens, wife of American Sprinter Jesse
“I switch on my television now and whenever a game comes on I see black fellers in starring roles. Black men look like they rule sport in this country now. It’s the only area where they are on top. It was nothing like that in the 1930’s. America was white and that was that.”
Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 World Champion
“We just want to live, have the same chances at education, at life and not have to fear walking down the street, or going to school, or walking into a store whatever it may be. We deserve this as much as anyone. Equality is paramount to our future, we cannot stop fighting this fight.”
Michael Jordan, Basketball Legend
“I don’t have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others. We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy, and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability.”
Gina Akpe Moses, Irish International Athlete
“I was naïve. In Ireland, racism is hidden away just a little bit. It isn’t as blatant as in the UK, or nearly as bad as it is in America, but in Ireland, people just try to present themselves as nice and hide those opinions away. They don’t want to be thought of as bad people.”
Tiger Woods, Major Winner
“We can make our points without burning the very neighbourhoods that we live in. I hope that through constructive, honest conversations we can build a safer, unified society.”
Raheem Sterling, England Footballer
“It’s been going on for hundreds of years and people are tired and people are ready for change.
“I keep saying this word. I see a lot of people on social [media] supporting the cause. But this is something that needs more than just talking.
“We need to actually implement change and highlight the places that do need changes.”
Renee Hector, Watford Women’s Footballer
“I think the moment where it really sank in was when I went into the changing room and I was telling my team-mates, I can’t believe what just happened, the number eight just made monkey noises in my ear as I just went to head the ball.”
Abdul Abdullah, Irish Amateur Football Player
“I had the ball, just trying to waste time. I had it in the corner and this guy came over and tackled me. The referee gave a free-kick. Then the player called me a nigger. The referee was standing there beside me. I said ‘did you not hear that?’ He started to run away, you know pretending he didn’t hear anything.”
We have to stop pretending we didn’t hear.
We have to do the right thing to call a halt when someone treats someone else on the basis of their colour.
We have to educate our children to see people, not colour so that on a generation basis we can start the process whereby we look back in years to come and see racism as the ugly and disgusting stain it is on our humanity.
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Image Credit: St Brendans Park FC, Tralee