Former Liverpool FC players John Barnes & Howard Gayle speak at Show Racism the Red Card fringe meeting at TUC Congress 14
Anti-racism educational charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) held a fringe meeting at TUC Congress 14 on Monday 8th September where a range of guest speakers and TUC members debated the issue of racism in society.
At a time when SRtRC are witnessing a rise in both Islamophobia and anti-immigration sentiment among elements of the population young and old, the meeting provided reflection on the organisation’s work to educate young people about the dangers of racism and examined the manifestations of racism in Britain in 2014.
The meeting was chaired by Liz Snape; Assistant General Secretary of UNISON and a member of the Show Racism the Red Card Hall of Fame. Liz spoke first hand about the positive impacts of SRtRC’s work in the classroom, having accompanied Education Workers during workshops in schools herself.
Speaking on behalf of the TUC, Lynn Collins, North West Regional Secretary praised the adaptability of SRtRC’s resources to educate adults as well as young people and encourage trade unionists to further promote the charity’s anti racism educational materials.
Glen Williams, Branch Secretary for Sefton UNISON provided a local perspective; discussing how SRtRC have supported his branch in dealing with some issues that are very specific to the area.
Former Liverpool FC, Sunderland AFC and Blackburn Rovers player Howard Gayle then addressed the audience, demonstrating the way in which SRtRC uses the role model status of former professional footballers to engage young people in safe discussions about racism.
Howard spoke first about his experiences growing up as the only young black man within his community, highlighting the verbal and physical attacks that he suffered as a result of prejudice from others. Next, he discusses the issue of racism within his professional career, mentioning that the attitudes of certain players and club staff made his life incredibly difficult.
As is always the case, Howard’s bravery and honesty drew a warm round of applause from the audience.
SRtRC were delighted that former Watford FC, Liverpool FC and England International winger John Barnes was also able to attend the meeting, and the audience appeared equally excited.
John began by talking about his family’s journey from Jamaica to England before explained that he too had suffered the kind of racism that many black players of his generation had suffered. He then moved on to focus on the issue of racism in 2014 and the actions that need to be taken to ensure that as a society we are able to tackle the root cause of racism, rather then just treating the symptoms. In light of this, Barnes praised the work of SRtRC in educating young people about the history and origins of racism rather than simply censoring them with a message that ‘racism is bad’.
John spoke eloquently and honestly about issues of power, hierarchy and the role of the media in perpetuating racism and was warmly thanked by the audience.
The meeting’s final speaker, Stephen Cavalier, Chief Executive of Thompsons Solicitors, spoke about the legal context of challenging racism and reinforced the role of trade unions and others in irradiating it from society.
A lively question and answer session then took place which included questions about whether football’s governing bodies do enough to tackle racism, about whether a person’s talent sometimes excuses their actions and about the importance of better anti-racism education.
Show Racism the Red Card would like to thank the TUC for hosting the meeting, as well as Thompsons Solicitors for sponsoring the event and Sefton UNISON for providing refreshments.
SRtRC would also like to thank campaign supporters Liz Snape, Lynn Collins, Glen Williams and Stephen Cavalier for their continuing support for the campaign.
Finally, special thanks go to SRtRC patrons and the meeting’s star turns; John Barnes and Howard Gayle.