Scottish Women in Sport is dedicated to promoting diversity, equality and parity in sport, based on education, empathy and compassion. In order to amplify the voices of marginalised communities, we created this blog to share inspiring stories that make us understand each other’s experiences better.
October 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month, originating from the US but now observed in many countries around the world. It aims to “honour the too-often unheralded accomplishments of Black Britons in every area of endeavour throughout our history.”
This week, to participate in the conversation, we invited Dr Marlon Moncrieffe, Co-Convenor of the Race, Ethnicity and Education Special Interest Group, British Educational Research Association Council Member, writer and researcher at the University of Brighton, to take over this week’s update.
First, he tells us about his recent book titled Desire Discrimination Determination – Black Champions in Cycling.
“I am a Black British man and former bike racer,” he tells us. “Essentially the work started with me wanting to make meaning for myself about Black absence in the sport at the highest level i.e., Olympics, World Championships. I started writing the book around 2018.
“But my work began way back in 2009 and has included lots of articles and public exhibitions. The book is an international historical and contemporary presentation of the Black experience in the sport. From Major Taylor to Kye Whyte, there are a lot of voices and lives in this book. Not many Black authors and Black racing cyclists have actually written about their experiences in the sport. The last person to do this was Major Taylor, over 100 years ago.”
Secondly, Dr Moncrieffe discusses Black History Month:
“There is quite a lot of focus on this month, and the danger in it is that it ends up for some being a bit manufactured in presentation and appropriation by the media, by institutions like universities, just for being seen as taking the moral high ground for ticking the box in October.
“Black History Month is every month. However, for October why not learn or try something new and allow this to be led by a Black person’s story.”
If you are looking to educate yourself, a good place to start could be to read up on black sporting heroes, whose stories are often overlooked.
“I have been campaigning for a while that Maurice Burton and Russell Williams be inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame for their services to cycling,” Dr Moncrieffe explains. “Both are original Black British Champions in Cycling. They have been extremely influential in supporting many of the British cycling champions that we see today represent the nation.”
Lastly, Dr Moncrieffe speaks about some of the obstacles black athletes face, in order to start a conversation that we hope to continue on this blog.
“In cycling, my evidence points to engagement with the national body and national coaches. If there is not a trusting bond/relationship established, then the Black rider is unlikely to get the pick. There is a clear chronology of this pattern through the history of Black Cyclists. There certainly needs to be greater accountability of the gatekeeper in potentially stymying the ambitions of young black cyclists.”