Last week at a Women in Sport team meeting we discussed the abhorrent racism that had followed in the wake of England’s defeat in the men’s Euros. As an organisation, we do not want fans to continue acting in this way, so it is our duty across society to stamp out toxic behaviour and individually lead in the same way that the England team has shown us.
We discussed the fear and dread racism instils in the hearts of those from diverse communities, and the shame it causes amongst white friends and allies. We talked about how this negative experience contrasts the more positive mood of the crowd at the Paralympics at London 2012 and we said we wanted all sports crowds and fans to share that passion for equality and inclusion.
Shanika Flanore, our Communications and Campaigns Officer reflects on this as she writes:
I believe that leadership takes resilience, courage, bravery and authenticity. The England team demonstrated this throughout the tournament. We should be proud of this.
As disheartening as it may have felt that ‘football did not come home’, it is abhorrent that racism was used as a tool in response to the frustration felt when England lost the match.
Racism is a deliberate act used to humiliate, denigrate and belittle thousands of people who look like me.
As a black woman, sometimes I feel uncomfortable because I know my skin colour will always be judged. This needs to stop. I’m tired of feeling like I don’t belong in the country that I was born in. I’m tired of feeling “different.” I’m tired of being “othered” and I am tired of knowing that I must work even harder to be respected.
I was horrified when I scrolled on Twitter and found posts urging black and brown people to leave pubs to avoid being attacked. There was a certain level of normality about this which made it even more alarming. The normalisation of this just emphasises the complacency that society has towards race. Few people are willing to understand that this is a serious problem or perhaps care to understand. Many would rather deny that they have privilege then confront the awful reality which is racism exists but it shouldn’t be here to stay.
For women of colour in sport, our experiences of discrimination differ. For example, a black woman will not have the same experience as an Asian woman so I can only speak about the black experience. In sport, black women are often subjected to ‘misogynoir’. This can take many forms, from our hair being seen as “ugly”, “unkempt” or “ghetto” to our facial features being criticised, racial slurs, being hyper sexualised and constant microaggressions – every single part of the black identity is under scrutiny and being a woman on top of that only fuels this burden.
I just want to be treated with equality.
We must continue fighting for women & girls who belong to these communities. We need to keep using our platform to create a society where it’s not about the colour of your skin, but who you are within. I didn’t decide on the colour of my skin, yet I am proud of it.
I want all girls and women to feel a sense of belonging in this sector and will do everything in my power to ensure that they are given that right because we believe no-one should be excluded from the joy, fulfilment and lifelong benefits that sport and exercise gives.