I never imagined that there would be a follow up to the blog post I wrote last night, partly whilst watching the game (I can’t sit still, remember?) but mostly following the defeat.
However, waking up this morning, remembering we had lost, I scrolled through social media and saw the most horrific comments. While I could shove these to the back of my mind, this is not something that sits right with me. More lessons could certainly be learnt from Euro 2020.
Here I attempt to tackle part of the issue of racism. Please excuse me if anything I say comes across as white privilege – but it is something that I naturally have as a white woman living in the western world. However, please also tell me about it so that I can work on it in the future.
Throughout the Euro 2020 tournament, a team of talented, dedicated and unique individuals has come together to represent their country. I have watched every match and, even with the dull game against Scotland, I have remarked on the incredible teamwork these men have shown. It’s unfortunate that the same cannot be said about the fans. I covered their lack of respect when booing the national anthem in my last post, but I neglected to mention the laser pen being shone into Schmeichel’s eyes during the penalty. If we are going to win matches, let’s do so fairly.
When the team plays well, the entire nation backs them. However, when something goes wrong, and the match or tournament is lost, this is when people revert to their true prejudiced ways. Racism, in my eyes, has no place in society full stop. Though its existence has been evident throughout my life, it seems the past decade or so, the resurgence of the extreme right and so-called journalists, like thug Tommy Robinson harping on about conspiracy theories and white supremacy (but not always so overtly), has somehow given people the green light to shout their racism from the rooftops.
For some England fans (though calling them that is very wrong) to flit from calling these men of colour their heroes to suddenly using racist terms (I cannot and will not repeat these) or using monkey and banana emojis is sickening. Imagine a white person having a black ‘friend’ who gives them lifts to and from work every day. One day, the black friend finds himself in financial difficulties and can no longer afford the petrol, so he is unable to take his white friend to work any longer. If that white person began hurling racist abuse at the friend simply because this inconvenienced him, would this be right? Absolutely not. This response, however someone is feeling, is not and never can be acceptable.
So, how can we help? Education is a start. Educate ourselves, our sons, our daughters, our parents, our friends, our students. Never allow people to get away with being racist, whatever form it takes. If you see something online, report it. If you see or hear something at a football match, report it. If you are told something in person, online or over the phone, tackle it, dispute it and cut it down. If you ignore these things, you are accepting of racism and complicit in its rise back into the everyday.
I used to think that colour didn’t matter and I see people for their personality, their behaviour, their nature. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this meant I was negating these people’s culture, their history, their experiences when actually, these things really do matter. Having said that, there are people of mixed race or those who are white with different backgrounds who have not or have experienced similar racism or xenophobia. It is impossible to speak for everyone at all times. The important thing is to try to show understanding, care, love and support for all. Every day, I am being taught life lessons. Accepting that I don’t and won’t ever know everything is important, but being progressive and moving forward is more so.
As white people living in the UK, we have an advantage, whether we like to believe it or not. We can proclaim that we understand how hurtful it can be to live your life, day in day out, being judged unfairly and mostly subconsciously, but we honestly never will truly comprehend it. That doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to be better and do better. Please do your bit.