Taking the knee for racial justice is a gesture of solidarity and support i the fight for racial equality. It is taking a knee against racism. You would have thought that might be reasonably uncontroversial – unless you are a racist.
But the government has nailed its flag to the racist banner by supporting the minority of booing racists at England friendly warm-up matches for the Euro 2020 football tournament.
Although the government seems to have since backed down by claiming it now support the players statement against racism, the damage has sadly already been done.
This is of course part of a piece for a government that commissioned a report into racism with the intention that it should deny that racism exists.
Boris Johnson, whose racist track record is well known and for which he hasn’t apologised, is the spearhead of the assault on anti-racism.
Applaud footballer taking the knee against racism; boo our racist government
The message to black footballers is stopping moaning about racism and put up with it! The message to their white team mates is to stop being ‘woke’ by standing up for their team mates. The message to the rest of society is that it is the anti-racists that are the problem not the racists.
There is no other way to interpret this other than as the government teaming up with the far right.
Despite the war by the billionaire media and the government against BLM, a recent poll commissioned by the News Statesman showed a majority of the population think that more must be done to eradicate racism.
The truth is that it is an insulting lie that most white working-class people are supposedly racist.
Over many years of battle and struggle – of black and white – racist has been made non-respectable, although never eradicated, especially at an institutional level.
But the idea that we live in a “post-racial” world, where racism is naturally dying away or doesn’t exist in a deep or measningful way is for the birds.
The evidence is all around us, especially when the policies of this government are concerned – such as Priti Patel‘s racist refugee policies, the ongoing Home Office institutional racism against the Windrush generation, who still mostly have not been compensated and cases of gross injustice continue.
And whatever your background as a black person, you can’t escape racism, even if you are a Premier League footballer.
The shocking refusal of social media companies to clampdown on racists adds to the pain of the footballers who daily have too put up with racism in their social feeds or in stadia across Europe.
Take a knee – that’s what leadership really looks like
Footballers have shown their determination to carry on taking the knee for racial justice. That’s brilliant news. Gareth Southgate and his open letter to England fans has shown more leadership in his little finger than in the entire body of Boris Johnson as he flounders on the beaches of Cornwall.
The Tories and their racist supporters claim that they are against Taking the Knee because BLM is “Marxist”. The truth however is that BLM is a movement not a single organisation. In the UK there are literally hundreds of BLM organisations of different sizes, many of which, such as ourselves (BLMM) are not affiliated to BLM UK.
But nevertheless BLM UK is the ‘official’ organisation affiliated to the US body and maybe some of its members are Marxists or sympathetic to Marxist ideas. So what? Certainly the US group’s policies link the fight for racial justice to wider issues of social justice such as the fight against sexism or for Palestinian rights. We think that is to be applauded not vilified in a latter-day McCarthyite witchhunt.
However, whatever the policies of BLM UK, or of the individual views of the US founders or the organisations stated aims, BLM is much bigger than any single group – it is a movement with many different and competing political ideas. Those who Take A Knee or join protests for racial equality are making a statement against racism.
All such actions matter because they help to isolate and push back the racists. Unfortunately Boris Johnson and his racist government has sought to deliberately bolster not just booing racists but the Nazis that are amassing weapons in this country as they plot and plan to spread their hate-filled message with racist terrorism.
The best answer the England football team can give to the the racists within and outside government and across Europe is to bring football home.