Raheem Sterling on racism, Black Lives Matter protests & representation in football – BBC Newsnight

published on July 13, 2020

Rahim you've been watching the protestshere in in America I wonder what youryour response has been what's gonethrough your head yeah it's been hard totake in a week or so it was quite tragicwhat's happened to him I just want tosay first and foremost I wanna send my

Condolences to GeorgeFloyd's family to see any human treat inthat way know it's unacceptableyeah I've been having time to reflectand you know it's just really sad to seesomething like that that spot you know

Debates now in our country no for it tohappen over there this is things that'sbeen happening in our country for youknow the loss god knows how longno police brutality has been 15 15 plusshootings in the last 30 years from

Police in this country and none have youknow resulted in any police officersbeing convicted or charged so it's it'sone of those where there's a touchysubject but it's not anything anythingnew to us even in this country did it

Make you want to join the protests hereI think you know the protest is it's allyou know it's a great starting point youknow and to start protesting to get yourvoice be heard because this how peopleare getting their voices heard by the

Same time you know people in positionswhich I'm lucky enough to be in this isa time to you know speak on on thesesubjects speak on you know injustice inespecially in my field this is somethingI always tried to say to you know family

Friends and you know people around methat Wizards you know what do you thinkof this I can only you know kind oftouch on topics that I see on everydayissues in my in my field you knowthere's I think this something like 500

Players in the Premier League and onlyyou know further that look further themour you know our black and we have norepresentation of us in you know nohierarchy no representations of us youknow and coaching staff is coaching

Staffs this you know there's not a lotof faces that we can you know relate toyou know have conversations with and Ido think you know with these proteststhat are going on you know it's all wellwell and good you know just talking but

It's time that we need to know haveconversations to be able to sparkdebates and not just debates becausewe've done a lot of talking to actuallystart you know implementing change areyou optimistic that these protests will

Now lead to the kind of concrete changethat you're talking about yeah and Isaid you know as I said before you knowthe peaceful protest and you know thisis how your voice gets heard but at thesame time you know you need to have

People fighting on the forefront givingyou know valid points and you knowsituations in everyday lives every daywalks of life speaking on these subjectsand you know bringing it to thenecessary people you know and and and

Keep fighting for the for change but youknow just protesting alone it's notgonna you know make make a change inthis country you know you have to keepkeep talking keep fighting and you knowwe do see change so what's the one

Single difference then you think it'sits manager representation in black andethnic minorities do you or what's theone single thing you'd say has to changeand could change really easily thatwould send the clearest message it's not

Just as I said I'm speaking on you knowmy field yo I come from the footballindustry someone like Antony Joseph fromthe boxing industry he can talk on youknow the injustice he sees and you knowhis field by the same time it's you know

Coming together and finding a solutionto be able to know sparked changebecause we can talk as much as we wantabout you know changing and you knowputting people black people in you knowthese these positions that I I do feel

You know they should be in you know forexample the the coat as I always referback to the footballing the the coachingstaffs that you see around footballclubs you know I'll give a perfect oneyou know there's Steven Gerrard your

Frank Lampard's you have your soulCampbell's and you have your you knowAshley calls you know all had you knowgreat careers you know who played forEngland but at the same time you knowthey would respectfully done there you

Know coaching badges you know as a coachat the highest level you know and thetwo that haven't been given that theright opportunities are you know the twothe two black players you once said thatthere's never a time in your life in

England that you've received racismoutside of football is that still true Idid meet that comment and the comment Idid say was once when I was walking toschool but that was when I moved out ofLondon to to Liverpool but yeah growing

Up in London you know you got toremember you know growing up in London Icome from an estate where you know all Ido see is you know black people or youknow people from different you know mynot Rebeck backgrounds you know you

Don't really see different culturesuntil you you know venture out or Ishould say you know don't see whitepeople as much as you probably would doif you you if I went up to Liverpool soyou know I wasn't really exposed to

Certain things and you know moving upnorth kind of change change that andthat's when I started to you knowexperience these these Ray's theseracist comments I wonder whether youthink things are getting better

Or have got worse than when you were ayoung kid or when you were coming of ageI definitely say people are listeningnow I definitely say you know thecountry on a whole is you know growingand getting better you know

Communicating with each other as you seein the protests and it's not just blackpeople are out there protesting it's youknow black white asian and everyone cansee the injustice that's happening andeverybody is you know voicing their

Concerns but they won't change and youknow as I said before you know this isthe time that I feel like you know weneed to continue to talk continue tohave these debates and you knowhopefully try to define the right

Solutions which the right solutions areyou know if we're going to have you knowpolice you know that commit such crimesit there should be you know people fromblack backgrounds that are higher up inin

The police force and the policedepartment sir to be able to have a sayon you know their punishment on a verysmall level you memorably called out theDaily Mail for representing you andother black teammates as you know

Troublemaker or flashy or tight alwaystalking about the way you were spendingmoney or not spending money and youcommented on that I wonder if you thinksince then the coverage has changed as aresult of you just pointing that out

Yeah I feel you know I think a lot morenewspapers are careful you know in theword in the words that he you know usedto describe players and and athletes youknow it was one of those it was justsomething that I could see and it's the

Reason why I felt I needed to speak upwas not just for myself you know andthis was something I was looking for youknow I've got two two boys with my myown now and I just imagine him playingfootball and if I didn't say something

At that moment I'm you know would theystill be you know if they if they didplay football but they'd still be facingthis sort of judgment and they sort ofknow criticism that wasn't you knownecessary so is one of those those I

Felt like I needed to say something toyou know kind of made people understandthe words that they use are you know aredamaging and you know can can reallyaffect people in and and how they seethings I think and when it's on the

Pitch whether it's your own experienceswith racism or looking forward to afuture for let's say your boys do youthink racism is being dealt with now ina way that stops it happening again butrace I say racism isn't just you know

Cooling someone black or calling someonewhite I'll give you the perfect exampleand I again I always have thisconversation with my friends it's youknow I'm from you know first Londonyou know I grew up seeing my my mom

Struggle I grew up seeing my you knowmom's mom struggle and everyone lives onthe same a stay at me they're all blackand it's not at that moment in time youyou you see your mom struggling you seeyour your grandma struggling and you you

Have no hope within yourself youhave no hope to feel you know I can dobetter than what they what they haveachieved in life so it kind of you knowit kind of gives us as I said it's notjust about color black or white about

The system that we're replacing you knowwe're we're given a less lesser chanceto succeed if I don't see my mom succeedwhat what am I most likely to do I'mmost likely to you know give up all hopebut luckily for me I was one of the

Lucky ones to you know get out of thatsystem and you know when I do go backinto the those areas now and see some ofmy friends that do live there it givesme a opener to actually what what's orprison

We might me myself that used to live andyou you're in there and at the time youdon't actually know that you're trappeduntil you get out and a few see thiswith a lot of the youths are you knoware in these estates and not given the

Same the same opportunity and chancesand and privileges some other people inthe country do you think this will be apivotal moment I mean have you beensurprised by the numbers and the forceof feeling on the street or do you think

It's going to just go away as as asstrong as the feeling is as I said it'sa stop you know the protest in you knowthis is a start to be you know make yourvoice be heard but then it's how we moveon from here and as I said it's about

Highlighting you know aspects and youknow things our society that needschanging and then acting upon it thisyou know as I keep saying we've done alot of talking and it's time now to actwhat when you say act we've seen for

Example photos of players taking theknee very visible sign in Americathey've done that ahead of live games isthat something that you'd like to seehere in a game players taking the kneewould you do that you know taking a knee

I understand as again another formerprotesting and as I say I would changeyou know the changes being able to speakto you know people in you know polymerpeople in people at the hierarchy at myFootball Club not just my humble Club

The football clubs across the countrypeople national team of Englandyou know to implement change and giveyou know equal chances to you know blackcoaches and it's not just coaches aboutpeople in you know in these in their

Respects we respected feels the rightopportunity you know I feel like that'swhat's lacking here is not just taking anice about you know giving people thechance and they deserve when you talkabout you know taking the message to the

Top we heard from the Home Secretarytoday and she was talking about theprotests on the street and she said theyshould stop and not go ahead becausethey're illegalthey clearly contradict all social

Distancing regulation I wonder what yourmessage would be to her and whether youthink which should come first right nowI know this might sound a little bitcheesy but you know the only no diseaseright now is the racism that we're

Fighting I think this right now thisinput this is the most important thingat this this moment time because youknow it's just something that's beenhappening for years and years and youknow just like the pandemic we want to

See it we want to find something asolution to stop it and at the same timethis is what all these protesters aredoing they're trying to find you know asolution and a way to stop the injusticethat they seen and they're fighting for

Their cause and I think this is you knowas long as they're doing it peacefullyand you know safely and not you know herin any video any store or breaking intoany stores I think you know theycontinue to protest in this peaceful way

Did it worry you when you saw some ofthe violent elements in the protestyeah you know that's that's the lastthing you want to see you don't want tosee anybody hurt in the process processof this you know people are you know

Protesting because they're tired they'rethey're tired of you know what they'reseeing and the people just want changeand this is exactly why they're out onthe streets well I would say this to youknow be to be sure is to be safe on the

Streets and you know keep doing whatyou're doing but at the same time youknow we can't just process we have toalso act and you know talk to the theright people and you know that's why I'mhere to you today to um you know get

This message heard even more you saidthat the only diseaseat the moment that matters or the mostimportant thing is is racism I wonderwhat you think when when thegovernment's brought out this report

Saying that black and ethnic minoritypeople are more vulnerable to covert19-2 coronavirus and your mum's adirector of a care home isn't she I justwonder if it's brought things very closeto home

Hearing that yeah it's it's one of thosewhere it is scary and to fail to thinkwhites you know of more risk to you knowand you know from the stats that I'veseen it's you know affected more blackpeople than anybody else

Not just same communities so yeah is isscary I said we have to you know keepsafe keep keep to the guidelines and besafe did you am I right in thinking youlost family members to coronavirus yeahI've lost two to one family member and a

Close family friend yes and do you feelthat enough has been done to highlightthat the inequalities of the way thisdisease has has hit people no I don'tfeel like it's been explained I don'tfeel like it's you know why is it more

Likely that someone from a blackbackground or you know a vain backgroundis more likely to you know sufferingfrom this disease I feel like that thereshould be more of an explanation on thisand you know I don't think we our health

And our risk is you know take youseriously for example me going back intofootball now and with this risk I'm fineyou know going back as at this momentI'm you know the club and you know thePremier League earth you know been so

You know done things with so much forand carefulness so I have no worries onthat aspect but you know in the otherwalks of life you know we people want toknow if they're going to go back intotheir workplace if they're going to be

Safe and I don't think there's been toomuch explain to us why it's affecting usmuch more than you know any other racedo you feel that it's all happening tooquickly I mean football's going backnext week I know it's different for

You've said you don't you don't worryabout that for yourself but do you feelthat that we are going back to work orout of lockdown too quickly you knowthat's it was it was gonna be at somepoint we would had to go back to work

And when it was deemed safe to do sowhich you know the government and thePremier League on my on in the footballindustry has deemed it safe to go backnow so you know the rates have droppedin you know cases and people dying has

Said what the precautionary measuresthat they they are taking at thefootball clubs and and the trainingfacilities is top-notch I can't I can'tnot that but you know for for placeslike school you know our workplaces

It's a massive risk you know you canhave a lot of children in schools thatare you know probably not as hygienic asyou know as most adults would be andthere'll be a lot more germs and andstuff in classrooms but I hope the the

School when you know whoever in chargeare are taking these precautions we'rereally seriously you must have thoughtquite hard about speaking out on thisit's never easy to be the person whojust says right this is the time and and

People are expecting to hear from me andI've got to say somethingI know John boyega the actor said Idon't know if I'll have a career afterthis when he was speaking at the protestdoes the job become much harder when you

Speak out so to be fair first andforemost I don't really think about myjob when things like this happen youknow I think about what what is rightand at this moment I'm you know there'sonly so much people can take there's

Only so much you know communities andyou know other backgrounds can takeespecially black people you know it'sbeen going on for hundreds of years andyou know people are tired people are youno are you no are ready for change and I

Keep saying this word I say you know Isee a lot of people on on socials andstuff you know supporting the cause butyou know this is something that needsmore than justyou know we need to actually implement

Change and highlight the the places thatdo any changes but this is somethingthat I myself you know will continue todo and have these spot these debates andyou know get people in my industry youknow looking at themselves and and

Thinking you know what they can do toyou know give people an equal chance inthis country and hopefully you knowother industries as well can do that ineveryday society and you know the systemas well when will you know that this

Movement has been successful when willyou know it's a achieved the goals thatyou know you are setting it now as Isaid when the right when you knowthere's more black people in positionsyou know like I keep going back to my

Football because you know that's myfield but yeah when you know I can havesomeone you know from a black backgroundfor me to be able to go to in the FAwith you know a problem I had you knowwithin the club you know these will be

The times I know that you know change ishappening and not just in my field youknow also in Parliament you know it is Ithink what is it in 600 MPs the 600mphParliament 650 yeah 600 or something MPsin Parliament and only 20 with 21 at mr

Black and so this just shows you knowhow far behind we are and you know oncewe do see those numbers shifting andthat's when I'll be happy and the peoplewill be happy is it to do with the moneyI mean I know you've spoken in the past

About that you know this is a differentpoint I'll hear you about representationbut when you've spoke in the past aboutthe way that racial abuse is punishedit's like piddly little fines and you'vesaid we need point bans or we need

Sponsorship to think differently aboutclubs or we need to stop games I meanhow far would you go to say you've donea lot of thinking about this you knowhow do you get racism out of the standsin terms of not racism but racist abuse

First of all most it's having people asI said from these backgrounds andhappened understandingof how it feels it to be racially abusedso it's for example you know someone youknow what happened to us in you know

Bulgaria I think it was that their FAcan't you know find them the way or givethem a band which is deemed necessary tothem because they they don't understandthe feeling of it but I would go asextreme as possible

I think people need to understand youknow when a club gets charged a certainamount of money you know this is only somuch this can do there has to besomething that people have to think notjust twice but more than twice if

They're gonna actually say these thingsand and have these gestures in stadiumsand and inns in society where I'm sorrythank you very much thank you

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