Guest blog from Emy Onuora
(Emy Onoura is the author of Pitch Black. Emy Onuora has an MA in Ethnic Studies and Race Relations from the University of Liverpool and has lectured extensively on issues of Race and Sport within higher education)
Raheem Sterling’s willingness to put himself forward as the spokesperson for a generation of black footballers is commendable, if only in the context of previous generations of footballers who were forced to suffer racist abuse in silence, even in some cases going as far as to insist that they used racist abuse as a motivator for improved performance. His challenge to the game’s leaders and opposition fans, and support for his team mates has marked a significant shift in black footballers demand to be treated with respect and dignity, has given other players the confidence to speak out and demand change. However, it’s his focus on racist attitudes within the media that’s had the most wide-ranging impact.
Sterling highlighted how his City team-mates, one black and one white received very different treatment by the Daily Mail. Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden had each purchased a home. The headline on the Adarabioyo story read “Young Manchester City footballer, 20, on £25,000 a week splashes out on mansion on market for £2.25 million despite having never started a Premier League match.” The headline for his white team mate Foden, read “Manchester City starlet Phil Foden buys new £2m home for his mum.”
Sterling’s exposé prompted several days of hand-wringing and self-reflection from both the print and TV media. They openly wondered how it could be that they could be so discriminatory and how it was they had no or few minorities in their newsrooms or making editorial decisions. They began to throw around terms like unconscious bias and wondered what they could be done to make sports media more reflective of the range of diverse groups who love and have a stake in the game.
However, clearly missing from the debate was any detailed discussion of the role that the mainstream media plays in generating and supporting a climate of outright hostility and overt racism against immigrants, their children and grandchildren, inner-city youths, black music, black crime, black gangs, black parents and so on and so on, all of it designed to generate click-bait and sell papers and generate advertising revenue.
Football as has been said often and quite correctly, reflects society, and the rise in racist incidents both in English and European football, is a reflection of an environment that serves to empower the far-right and racists more widely, and is fuelled by the normalising of hateful ideas, speeches and actions by mainstream politicians and mainstream and social media.
Outside the rarified environment of football, there has been a significant rise in racist violence against groups and individuals, and increased racist attacks on mosques, synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, but the media’s willingness to support opposition to racism on its back pages, enables the same business-as-usual hate-filled, opinion pieces, leader comments, headlines and articles to be written about minority groups on its front pages. What’s happened, is that In football parlance, the sports departments have taken one for the team. This has allowed the blame to be shifted to sports journalism, and enable the media to state its commitment to anti-racism in football while its hostile reporting continues.
Of course, the fact that in 2019, Sterling, Danny Rose and other black footballers are still the cause of debate as to how they should be protected, reflects the fact that football’s leadership has never prioritised their duty of care, to allow them to play free from racist abuse is an indictment of the game we all love and of the society we are all a part of and have a stake in. Raheem Sterling, Danny Rose, Wilfred Zaha and many other high profile and not so well-know players are doing us all a favour and reminding us that to create a society free from discrimination, requires opposition to racism not just when it concerns football, but also when it is actively fostered by those with the means and power to shape and form opinions.
If you’ve visited World Museum you’ll know the World Cultures gallery has incredible collections from Africa, Asia, Oceania and The Americas, but the presentation is now out of date and perpetuates stereotypes and assumptions about people and places. I am one of a group of people working in the museum who is increasingly questioning the relevance of these displays and thinking about new ways to use objects to understand our collective past, present and future.
We agree that the gallery needs to change, but the question is how to do it?
“I recently visited the bird collection at World Museum Liverpool as part of my team’s research on the birds of Lord Howe Island. Situated in the Tasman Sea, about halfway from Australia to New Zealand, Lord Howe is home to about 350 people, and has a troubling ornithological history. First visited in 1788 (and with no evidence of pre-colonial inhabitation), it has now lost 9 species of bird, including some species and subspecies found nowhere else.
“We are beginning to study the history of these extinctions, and the biology of the birds that are now gone. Thanks to museum specimens, including several in Liverpool like the Lord Howe Gerygone, and the endemic subspecies of Metallic Starling, we can piece together when these birds disappeared, find out how unique they were, and potentially inform future plans to reintroduce closely-related species once the island’s rats and mice are eradicated (currently planned for the Austral winter of 2019).”
In exploring the culture of our fascinating city region the Museum of Liverpool considers our long history, our present people and place, and things which will shape our future. We need to be aware that in the future human-made climate change will impact our lives, our environment, other species, and future generations in many ways. Read more…
Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. As part of the Volunteer Spotlight series we will be meeting up with volunteers who have been making outstanding contributions to the organisation and finding out more about the work that they do.
For this month’s spotlight, I was able to make my way to the waterfront in the beautiful February sunshine (hopefully not too much of a distant memory by the time you read this) to meet Andrew Richardson, a Regional Archaeology volunteer who volunteers with Vanessa Oakden, Curator of Regional and Community Archaeology in National Museums Liverpool’s Archaeology department. Read more…
Here is a post from our Policy and International Relations Officer, Francoise McClafferty:
“National Museums Liverpool and the University of Liverpool have been collaborating on a vast range of topics for many years, including, joint research, teaching provision for students, placements and projects, access to our diverse collections, loans and joint public events. Read more…
Who is Sara Collins?
I studied law at the London School of Economics and worked as a lawyer for 17 years before pursuing my lifelong ambition of writing a novel. I obtained a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Cambridge University, where I started writing my novel in late 2015.
Why are you going to know all about Sara next month?
The Confessions of Frannie Langton will be published by Penguin (Viking) in the UK on 4 April 2019. Read more…
“I like to think that the Plimsoll line should be regarded as a commemoration not just of Samuel Plimsoll, but of his wife Eliza Plimsoll, whose idea it was originally that he should initiate his campaign for the defence of sailors, and who was definitely dedicated to the cause as he was.” – Nicolette Jones lecture, 2008
As a society we are becoming more aware of the vast swathes of people whose stories have been excluded from, or side-lined within, the historical narrative. This includes (but is certainly not limited to) women, people of colour, the disabled and LGBT+ people. It can be difficult to combat this when a lack of acknowledgment from their contemporaries has often been compounded by the way history books, and museum collections, have, in previous years, focussed on the privileged and powerful. It is important we remember though that just because these stories have not been told does not mean that there is nothing to tell. Read more…
We are proud to have added two exceptional BAME women to our Black Achiever’s Wall this International Women’s Day (8 March 2019). Sandi Hughes is a feminist film-maker, DJ, poet and activist. And Lady Phyll is a celebrated speaker, writer and LGBTQI campaigner. Read more…