Looking at social media this morning and seeing some of the racist abuse levelled at our footballers has been a pretty saddening experience.
There will be those who say “it’s only a small minority, spoiling it for the rest,” but whatever your take on it is, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that racism is alive and well. Here’s hoping that the majority speak up proudly in support of our young players in the coming days (which I’m sure we will!).
It’s a bit unsettling, though. It makes us question the widely-held view that things are getting better with each generation. On the one hand, they are - evidenced not least by my (now grown up) kids and their wonderfully diverse friends, who seem infinitely more tolerant and understanding than my age group – and certainly that of my parents. On the other, they’re not – players being booed when they take the knee, vile abuse directed at our brilliant black players who have been central to the England team reaching the a for the first time in 55 years etc etc. Sigh.
So how DO we ensure that things really improve with each day, each year, each generation? It’s not something we can take for granted, that will just take care of itself. We’ve got to keep having the conversation during the formative years. Education is so important. As parents and teachers we need to keep finding ways for kids to question these important issues together and form their own opinions while they’re young.
Around the age of two, children become aware of racial and gender differences, with which comes the learning and use of labels. Around the age of four or five, children start to pick up and display gender and culture appropriate behaviours. It’s such a crucial stage in their development.
Our collection of fun, poetic stories for kids includes a category that we simply call “It’s ok to be different” – stories that enable us to talk about, appreciate, respect and celebrate the wonderfully unique things that define us all. Check ‘em out!
And well done to our courageous, talented lions. You made us proud.