Shaka Hislop's introduction to the 2018 annual review

Show Racism the Red Card Honorary President, Shaka Hislop, reflects on another year in the fight to eradicate racism from society.

As I sat to write this I decided to re-read the review I wrote exactly a year ago. Reminding myself of my thoughts and my hopes for 2018. There was so much to celebrate about 2017, despite the challenges that the the organisation and we all continue to face. Despite the concern I expressed for the upcoming year, as I reflect on the year that was, there is equally so much reason to celebrate 2018. 

Show Racism the Red Card was a finalist for the FIFA Diversity Award. Finishing as runner-up for the award (huge congrats goes out to eventual recipients Horn of Africa, and joint runner-up John Moriarty Football) gives us so much to be proud of. It is not lost on me the difficult political circumstances the organisation continues to work in.

As I write this it was announced that all 27 European leaders had agreed to the Brexit proposal that Theresa May put before them. The tougher fight is yet to be had in the Houses of Parliament, where many remain sceptical. The Leave campaign made immigration its focus. The success of the their campaign at the polls prompted a spate of racially motivated attacks, attacks against immigrants, and a rise in Islamophobia. Yet politically the post-referendum discussion and negotiations have been about anything but, showing that there are no simple solutions to complex problems. Particularly in an ever shrinking and changing world.

I’ll be honest, as I sat to write this I also hoped to stay away from politics as best I could. A change I’ve tried to make in my own everyday life. I’ve taken a sabbatical from Twitter. I find that social media can be such a dark place, as with our politics. I also recognise how easy it is to be attracted to those dark places. It’s easy to hide in the shadows, to disguise your own flaws. From the dark you can pretend to be perfect and point at the imperfections of others. The trouble with living in the dark is that you cannot see the beauty around you. You cannot appreciate the beauty in each other, in our differences. You will never be able to appreciate the strengths our differences give us when combined. That’s the world I want to live in, that I dream of. That’s the world I’m trying to make for myself one simple step at a time. When I do make it back on to social media, who I follow, what I say on there will reflect my wishes for that world.

So as we prepare for what’s to around the corner, let’s not lose sight of how far we’ve come. As we steady ourselves for the challenges- some foreseen, some unexpected- let’s take a moment to celebrate our accomplishments. It’s easy to take for granted the successes we’ve enjoyed over the years, even easier for others to dismiss them. It’ll be a challenging few years ahead, probably none more so than 2019. But it won’t compare to the last 22, and yet here we are, alive and kicking our feet in celebration. All made possible by the the allegiances we’ve built over the years, by wonderful people we share our spaces with each day. People who are all very different for us and from each other, and yet somehow we share so much.

In 2019, let’s continue to seek out the light. Our differences, our flaws will be visible. But so will our similarities, as will the beauty in those flaws and the strength in those differences.