Shaka Hislop's support kick-started Show Racism the Red Card 15 years ago. We met him at Parliament in his role as our Honorary President
Pictured L-R, SRtRC Hall of Fame members Sol Campbell, Paul Canovile
and Honorary President Shaka Hislop
Following Show Racism the Red Card's Magazine Launch last week, we returned to Parliament again to meet with MPs in the company of Shaka Hislop, our first patron and Honorary President. Shaka was in the UK for the week and used his trip to lend support to the campaign, speaking to the various MPs in attendance about the fantastic work of Show Racism the Red Card over the last 15 years.
Shaka was joined by other Show Racism the Red Card patrons including former Arsenal and England defender Sol Campbell, ex-Chelsea player Paul Canoville, SRtRC education workers and former professional footballers Paul Mortimer and Leroy Rosenior, actress Tracy Wilkinson and the recent winner of ITV’s ‘Show Me the Funny’ comedian Patrick Monahan. Each patron spoke openly to MPs about their experiences of racism and their work with the campaign in combating prejudice in society. Show Racism the Red Card would like to thank them all for their continuing support.
Brendan Simpson spoke with Shaka about his involvement with SRtRC, what similar issues he sees in the USA, his thoughts on the EDL and what the UK could learn from American sport with regards to anti-racism and the Rooney Rule – the rule that says any NFL side must at least interview a person from a minority ethnic background when appointing a management position.
How is America?
It’s good, I am enjoying it. My family has settled and I am doing ESPN football commentary and analysis out there – I am smiling.
Is there a problem with racism in America and American sport?
I think more to do with communities outside of the big cities. Within sport there is a huge percentage of minorities, particularly in the NFL and NBA, and the authorities in the US have been very forward thinking in their approach. Certainly towards the management position, the Rooney Rule is something that has been discussed a lot over here of late. This is something that has been in existence in US sport for some time. Within the sport, obviously, the authorities have done a very good job but everybody realises there is a connection between sport and communities where racism still exists.
Do you think British sporting authorities could learn something from the US?
Absolutely. I am in favour of the Rooney Rule and especially its primary focus of addressing the lack of black managers. What has been the most discouraging thing about getting black people into management positions in the past: the [lack of] opportunity to showcase their talent. I feel the Rooney Rule would at least allow black ex-footballers or qualified coaches to feel as though they are given the opportunity to at least present their credentials for management jobs. That would be a huge step in the right direction.
What effect will a lack of funding have on Show Racism the Red Card in the long term?
It could have a large impact as we will not be able to operate in the same way. If you just look at the work done by the charity over the years, you look at the questions that come from nine, ten and eleven year olds and you see there is still work to be done. We are trying to change the way we see each other and the way we appreciate different cultures. For me, and the charity, the best way to do this is with the younger generation, who are exposed to so much more. This is not just with the internet and television but just by sitting next to one another in the classrooms and I think that is the most important, as well as the most effective, way to understand and accept different cultures.
We have seen a rise in the profile of the EDL recently. Do you see them as being the next big challenge to the work done by organisations such as Show Racism the Red Card?
Yes and no, they obviously pose a challenge to the education we try to spread. However, the challenges never stop coming and they can take on a different face or a different name. Looking at the messages they portray or the way they try to twist the statistics to suit their own agendas, I think it is pertinent to look a lot deeper. You have to look a lot deeper at Britain as a country, as a society; as a multi-cultural, diverse society. Campaigns like Show Racism the Red Card [encourage us to] take a closer look at the individual and their own culture and society; you see how similar we actually are. Doing that and educating people to these facts will go some way to alleviating the threat posed by groups such as the EDL.
In difficult times, such as the economic troubles the world is going through now, you find groups such as the EDL, and the BNP in the past, who attempt to feed off people’s own anxieties and disappointments. Once again the solution is to look deeper and look more closely at the facts and find what may be causing the anxiety within communities so that we can try to combat them.
What differences have you seen between the first day you got involved with Show Racism the Red Card and now?
I feel that people are a lot more willing to talk about racism and about their own concerns - I think that is a huge step in the right direction. People are open and are talking about their concerns from both sides of the fence and I think continuing to promote that kind of dialogue and shared understanding is where the campaign must continue to go.
After 15 successful years, what is the next step for Show Racism the Red Card?
We will continue to focus on schools because we feel that this is the most effective avenue in trying to change a society or culture in the long term. It’s about the understanding these kids have of racism and as long as Show Racism the Red Card continues to do that it will have a longer lasting effect. Once the young people we target are out of school age I think they will have the right foundation and the right grounding to then go on and understand even more, as well as spreading understanding to those around them.