by Garnet Mackinder
Head of equality, Sport England
The issue of race and racial inequality in sport, and society as a whole, is not as simple as saying “you’re black, you must have experienced racism or discrimination and not had the same opportunities to be active as others”.
Statistically, sadly, the chances are that black people have experienced discrimination and have had fewer opportunities to be active.
But I’m a case in point as to why this attitude is slightly simplistic and why we at Sport England are working hard to integrate equality, diversity and inclusion into everything the sport and physical activity sector does.
More on that later, but first, a bit more about me.
Intersectionality is key
Currently I work for Sport England as head of equality and have played rugby for various Premiership teams and have been capped by England 7s.
I grew up in Devon – which is becoming more diverse but is still a predominantly white area.
My black heritage is from my dad’s side – an African American who lived out in the USA so I never saw much of him when I was younger and I was raised by my mum, who is white.
It wasn’t until later in primary school and secondary school that I realised I wasn’t like the rest of the kids and looked a little different.
Growing up in a white family, I never knew what to do with my hair (still don’t!) and occasionally the other children at school made unkind remarks.
I never let this phase me, and I don’t feel like it held me back in any way getting into sport. But I was one of the lucky ones as I had a supportive PE teacher, family and network around me.
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