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News

Stand with our footballers and call out the racists

Official Euro 2020 football

After the events of Sunday evening and the final of the Euro 2020 tournament, Ruth Davison, ISHA's Chief Executive wrote to staff with her thoughts on the match, the horrible reaction of some 'fans' and re-iterating ISHA's stance as an anti-racist organisation.


Long before the Second World War, Albert Einstein, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest physicists that ever lived, said:

If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.

As you can clearly see, his insights extended beyond physics. He well understood that old proverb that success has many fathers and failure is an orphan. He also well understood ‘othering’ and racism.

They, us and 'we'

I was reminded of this when I saw Conservative MP, Natalie Elphicke’s (private, but leaked) text to other Conservative MPs, after England’s defeat on Sunday night, in which she said: “They lost – would it be ungenerous to suggest Rashford should have spent more time perfecting his game and less time playing politics.” This was of course a reference to Marcus Rashford’s amazing campaign last year to ensure that kids on free school meals got to eat during the summer holidays.

It is a snide text, made worse by the term ‘they’.

Had that amazing team of young men been victorious on Sunday evening, everyone, including the racist thugs who have since vandalised Rashford’s mural, and piled on to abuse him and Sancho and Saka, would have basked in the glory of their victory and indeed hoped that some of that glory would be reflected on them.

The minute England lose, that same group of amazing young men are ‘they’ to some people and no longer ‘us’ or ‘we.’

Was it inevitable? Perhaps.

Should we accept that it is still sadly inevitable not only that people are othered, but attacked?

Absolutely not.

Equality and solidarity

As England players took the knee before games, some so-called fans booed. Some spokespeople and commentators said it was okay for so-called fans to voice their opposition to this political stance citing all the usual nonsense about Black Lives Matter being anti policing etc. The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, called taking the knee ‘gesture politics.’

Gareth Southgate – by far the best leader I’ve seen in some time, and I don’t just mean sporting – said in his open letter to the nation that taking the knee was about equality and solidarity. It was about being anti-racist.

After England lost, and the pile-on began, Priti Patel condemned the racism, only to be called out by Aston Villa and England centre back, Tyrone Mings, saying:

“You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘gesture politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”

Well done that man for saying so.

Priti Patel has been called out by politicians of her own party and others, but not more eloquently than by this 28-year-old sportsman.

ISHA is proudly anti-racist

It is an example we should all follow and why ISHA adopted a strategy last year to make us proudly anti-racist, concentrating first on growing allyship.

ISHA is listening to colleagues and residents. Simply thinking we are not racist is not enough. We are engaging in important conversations about how we fight racism and promote inclusivity and opportunity for everyone. As a provider of homes and as an employer we are determined to fight all discrimination and be a voice for real, lasting, change.

On Sunday I watched a team of winners, led by a winner. They played as one – tight, cleanly, with passion and collective and individual bravery.

But they were winners before then.

They were and are an example to all of us.

I imagine very few of us (if any) will be capped for our country, but we can stand up and be counted with these men and others against the out and out racists and those who engage in the politics of division.

I know which side I’ll choose and I'm glad we’ve committed ISHA to that side too.

- Ruth Davison, Chief Executive

More information

If you have any comments, concerns or would like to get involved in our work against racism, email involvement@isha.org.uk.

 

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