‘Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.’
The words of the late American author, James Baldwin, are perfect to describe the accusation of institutional racism facing Cricket Scotland.
On 7 September I was proud to lead a Member’s Debate in parliament on the subject of Changing the Boundaries: Ending Institutional Racism in Sport.
The debate was a timely response to the shocking findings in the June 2022 review commissioned by sportscotland – Changing the Boundaries: An Independent Review into Racism in Scottish Cricket.
The motion for debate drew cross party support as did the debate itself. In her response, Maree Todd, Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport spoke of her shock and upset at the findings of the report, and gave a commitment to listen and to act.
Prior to the debate Running Out Racism organised a rally outside Parliament which heard calls for action from a range of individuals and organisations who campaign tirelessly against racism in sport and in Scottish public life in general.
Raza Sadiq of Running Out Racism and the Active Life Club, which does fantastic work in Glasgow getting youngsters from minority ethnic communities involved in sport, introduced speakers who spoke passionately and with urgency about the need for change. Aamer Anwar, Paul Reddish, Anas Sarwar, Humza Yousaf, Maggie Chapman and others highlighted the hurt and harm that racism has done in Cricket Scotland, and the urgent need for proactive action to ensure that racism cannot go undetected, unchallenged, and unpenalised in any other national sporting body.
I want to pay tribute to Running Out Racism in particular, who have worked so hard since initial complaints were lodged against Cricket Scotland to muster support for swift and meaningful action. Their efforts, and the courage of those who spoke out at great personal cost, have resulted in a variety of actions being initiated, including publication of the hard hitting review.
Cricket Scotland is on track to replace its entire Board by the end of September with members who reflect the diversity in the sport. Members of Cricket Scotland who were referred for investigation because of individual and specific complaints of racist behaviour are now being interviewed with the hope that swift, appropriate action will be taken when investigations are concluded.
The debate called for several key actions on the part of Government and sportscotland, including the following:
- ongoing proactive oversight and scrutiny of sporting bodies and organisations, and to include critical expert voices in the process
- link into the Scottish Government’s ongoing work on a national anti-racist infrastructure (led by Dr Ima Jackson) – a key recommendation of this work being to establish a more effective accountability and governance infrastructure in Scotland.
- governance structures and polices that adhere to and deliver on the MacPherson definition of institutional racism to become a statutory obligation for bodies in receipt of government funding.
In order to press the Government to act swiftly and meaningfully on institutional racism in sport, I will attend a meeting with Running Out Racism, the Minister and the Cabinet Secretary for Health, which I hope will be convened later this month.
We cannot read a review such as this and sit on our hands. That would be worse than not commissioning the review at all. If the findings of this review do not appal us and lead to swift, effective action, I don’t know what will.
Maya Angelou said: ‘When you know better, do better.’. This is our chance to do better. We must grasp it NOW.
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