Joe Crann: Sheffield Wednesday did what is right. Black Lives do Matter.

‘All Lives Matter’ should be a given, of course they do. If you’re a decent human being, that goes without saying. But we don’t say ‘What about the elephants?’ when we talk about saving the rhinos.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 12:00 pm

This week Sheffield Wednesday came out and did what was right. After they posted an image of Jacob Murphy taking a knee, fist in the air, kneeling in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter cause, some of the replies were horrific.

How, as a fan, you can celebrate a goal scored by a player of colour but feel that it’s ok to completely illegitimise their struggle, the struggle of their ancestors and the struggle of their people, is beyond baffling.

I’ve lived in South Africa for the best part of a decade. I’ve learned a lot about my privilege. My privilege as a straight, white, man. Having privilege is just something that you’re born with, it’s not a slight on you as a person. You just have to be aware of the fact that it’s something you have.

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My reality is vastly different to those of different sexual orientations, gender or race – I am able to go about my own life without being stereotyped, racially profiled or discriminated against.

I wasn’t fully aware of it when I moved to Cape Town back in 2011, but I’m certainly aware of it now. And I feel like a better, more rounded, more empathetic person because of it.

Some people will talk about keeping politics out of football, but at the core of it, Black Lives Matter is not about politics. It’s about basic human rights. It’s about the society that we live in.

By telling Liam Palmer or Moses Odubajo or Kadeem Harris that ‘All Lives Matter’, you’re suggesting that they don’t believe that they do, which is obviously not the case, but also that you refuse to see their struggle – using a phrase popularised by, and associated with, the far right.

Jacob Murphy and Connor Wickham take a knee before Sheffield Wednesday v Nottingham Forest. (Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

On Monday, the Owls – via their Twitter account – said, “Educate. Never discriminate. Proud of the players, proud of SWFC and proud to support #BlackLivesMatter.”

As far as I’m concerned, they did the right thing.

Wednesday owed it to their players of colour, their fans of colour, all players and fans of colour, to show that the club understand, and recognise, the challenges that they have – and continue – to face. I’d like to think that there are more people who are happy about them taking a stand than are against it. That’s what I’d hope for my club.

I don’t know the struggle, I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to imagine it. But there’s no denying that it’s there, and that’s what this has all been about. It’s about shining a light on the situation and showing solidarity with those who do know the struggle, it’s about saying, ‘We see you’.

There was also a moment's silence to say thank you to the NHS before the game too. (Pic Steve Ellis)

So yeah, all lives do matter equally, but things have to be equal in the first place.