Taking the knee at football games is anti-racist, so why is it being labelled ‘gesture politics’?
As a white, middle-aged man, I have no idea what it is like to experience racism in this country and it is unlikely that I ever will.
But what I know for sure is that racism is alive and kicking in Britain and that we must all stand united to wipe out discrimination and slurs of any nature.
This means standing up to online and physical abuse to everyone and calling out wherever we see it no matter how difficult that might be.
While I have no idea of the mental and physical pain that someone who is subjected to daily racist abuse experiences, I know that as someone who lives in the UK, it is my responsibility to stand strong with the black community.
But in order to begin to do that we must listen and reflect on what those who know the pain of racism are saying and why they are doing what they are doing.
Since George Floyd’s murder last year, taking the knee has been a symbol reflected all over the world in standing up against racism.
It has been performed by black and white people alike to show solidarity in the fight for racial equality.
Taking the knee has become commonplace at sporting events throughout the world with football games, cricket matches, Formula 1 Grand Prix have all been preceded by athletes taking the knee.
But at this year’s Euro 2020, an anti-racist symbol has once again been weaponised and manipulated for political gain.
As a white, middle-class man, I would never seek to state why a black man or woman would take the knee, but unfortunately, and quite predictably, our government could not resist.
Prior to the Euros, Home Secretary Priti Patel described taking the knee as ‘gesture politics’, defending the rights of English fans to boo the players if they wished to do so.
Now that three English black players have been racially abused online for failing to score in the Euro 2020 final, the Prime Minister has condemned the abuse, but the sincerity and the force behind such a statement has been lost by their earlier politicking.
The booing by fans in England’s warm-up games and in Premier League matches prior to that have been weaponised for months by Conservative ministers.
Last December, Environment Secretary George Eustice said in a Sky News interview “Each individual can choose how they reflect this and I know a number of people feel quite strongly and have taken that approach [fans booing football players].”
The reason put forward by many conservatives for condemning the knee is that Black Lives Matter represent an organisation that is Communist and associated with violence.
But regardless of the merits of that argument, the sporting community has no relation to BLM. So the fact of the matter is that past and present football players, managers and other individuals in the footballing community have clearly stated the reason for taking the knee is to highlight the issue of racism.
This has been stated time and time again by those taking the knee, both black and white, which makes the claims of ‘gesture politics’ complete nonsense as it is being done to stand up against racism.
It is not for me to say what the views are of those who do not support taking the knee, but taking the knee is being done by football players to stand up against racism in this country.
So you have to wonder why they cannot support this action if they are truly anti-racist…
Stand up against racism #SRtRC