“It’s our responsibility to kick racism – not just out of football, but out of our society.”
That was the clarion call at the heart of Dave Prentis’s speech last night, as UNISON hosted the launch of this year’s Show Racism the Red Card schools competition.
The general secretary noted that, 24 years after the campaign group was founded – with UNISON’s support – “we are back to where we started,” with some fans even “chanting against their own players” as racism and xenophobia grow outside football stadiums too.
“It’s demeaning, immoral – and it’s wrong,” he said.
“It’s by standing up to racism that you make that difference.
“We can’t say we’re only in it for the good times. If we don’t do it, nobody else will. But if we do it, we will make a difference.”
The formal part of the evening was chaired by Margaret Greer, UNISON’s national officer for race equality, who also introduced former player Leroy Rosenior, who has worked with Show Racism the Red Card for years.
Mr Rosenior talked of the importance of education and how, when you talk to children about racism, they “get it”.
And when you’re talking to children about the subject, then there’s a simple rule: “KISS – keep it simple, stupid”.
Baroness Christine Blower. The former general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, borrowed from Nelson Mandela to say: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Guests at the event also included The Voice winner Jermain Jackman, England cricket star Monty Panesar, former England and Arsenal star Rachel Yankey, Arsenal legends Paul Davis and Perry Groves, and author, poet and former Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen.
Find out more about the Show Racism the Red Card schools competition.
• UNISON Black members meet in their annual conference in Bournemouth at the end of this month, from 31 January to 2 February, where discussions will focus on tackling racism in the workplace, public service and the wider society.
All photos: Amanda Kendal