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Opinion

When black people refuse to take a knee, they’re not helping the whole anti-racism effort

A leading black football boss in England has decided his team will no longer take a knee, deriding it as a gesture and demanding action. However well intentioned, this does little to encourage those determined to fight racism.

Black Lives Matter has undergone an unnerving metamorphosis. It began with outrage at the racial inequality coursing through society. All right-minded individuals supported it and hoped that it would deliver change.

The most visible sign associated with the movement became ‘taking the knee.’ It has become a common gesture among sportspeople, but even world leaders and police officers have done it to show solidarity.

But now the debate has moved on: do these gestures actually mean anything, or are they a pointless symbol, similar to rearranging the deckchairs on the sinking ‘Titanic’?

That chord was struck louder than ever in the UK last weekend, when before a televised football match, both teams elected not to take a knee.

One of the clubs involved was Queens Park Rangers from London, and afterwards their Director of Football Les Ferdinand said: “The message has been lost. It is now not dissimilar to a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge.”

He also compared it to ‘Clap for Carers,’ when people across Britain held a minute of public applause for healthcare workers every Thursday at 8pm during the first few months of lockdown.

Ferdinand, who is black, added: “Recently, I took the decision not to do any more interviews on racism in football because the debate was going around in circles… People want a nice sound bite when something happens.” 

That attitude is disgraceful.

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Forget the sporting world, or any other industry; this is a universal issue. Not only does it affect those who face racial prejudice, it also impacts on those who do not, but feel moved to try to help eradicate racism. Are we all in this together?

Maybe at this stage it is worth reminding ourselves of why the BLM campaign has gained so much momentum. As an example, in England and Wales, a black person is, on average, 10 times more likely to be stopped by the cops. In some regions, it’s 25 times more likely. 

Over in America, black people are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white people. 

Research shows that 68 percent of white British people own their home, but for those identifying as black Caribbean it’s 40 percent and for black Africans it’s 20 percent. 

There are numerous other indicators and studies that highlight the inequality black people face, and due to their endemic nature, there’s not likely to be a quick fix. We won’t have this resolved in the next few years.

But does that mean we throw the toys out of the pram? Sure, this growing consensus that taking a knee is nothing more than virtue-signaling probably has some merit. However, the virtue that’s being highlighted is a necessary one. Isn’t it better to take a minute out of your day to show everyone else that you support the cause? There is no downside.

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That aside, nobody wants to keep hearing about racial injustice without any resolution. But to deliver that, some big walls are going to have to be leveled.

In the opinion of many people, the leader of the free world, Donald Trump, is a racist. Many in Britain feel the same about Boris Johnson. Significantly, both of them have refused to take a knee.

As a direct contrast to Ferdinand, Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton is in everyone’s face in the uber-white world of motor racing, ramming the point down their throats at every chance he gets. And so he should.

Black people – and all minorities – are being badly let down by black bosses or leaders who denigrate taking a knee or any other gesture done in the same spirit.

They should be happy to spend hours answering the same questions or continually explaining the issues.

Racism didn’t creep up on us. Very few, if any, people in developed societies were not conscious of the extent of the problem. But many didn’t know how to help.

If you have any platform or place to fire up a flare and highlight racism, then you are morally compelled to.

Taking a superior, arrogant stance that nothing matters apart from actual action is naive as well as stupid.

Black figureheads need to keep taking a knee until the people they represent are able to stand tall and proud, treated as equals by all members of society.

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RT Op-ed

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