“The wee black guy from Possil, the wee black guy who played for Hibs – the connotations were there constantly. I was subject to racism my whole life.”
These are the wounding words of Kevin Harper on an excellent new podcast from The Terrace.
Craig Fowler has gathered together four black footballers well known to Scottish football fans to discuss their reaction to the George Floyd murder, the rise of the Black Lives Matters movement and their own experiences of racism. Christian Nade, Sean Clare, Harper and Marvin Bartley are engaging and honest. Several tales stop you in your tracks.
Nade relates a particularly disturbing ‘rite of passage’ some black footballers have to endure after signing for a new club.
“The first thing you do is check if there are any black guys in the team,” he says. “If there are none, then the player knows he needs to be ready. The first thing they do is check you in the shower – you know why. At points it gets too much. Why do you want to see that? It’s weird.”
Bartley reports that recent events have helped restart – or indeed, start – a conversation with friends and team-mates. “We all have to educate ourselves,” says the Livingston skipper.
“We all have to stop this, we all have to educate ourselves. I admit as a young black man on the receiving end of racial abuse I didn’t know enough. How can I then look at my team-mates and think you should know more? This thing called white privilege has been spoken about. If I explain I can’t get into a nightclub because of the colour of my skin, these people have not encountered that unless I tell them about it.”
Becoming better informed on such matters does not take long. Just under an hour, in this case.
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