When Danny Rose shared his experience of racial profiling and police stop and searches earlier this week, there seemed to be a reaction of shock and disbelief that such things could happen to a person of his profile – but to me, as a black man living in London, it was just another reminder of everyday racism that has never gone away.
Police stop and searches in this country remain one of the most prominent racist discriminations in the UK, with black people 10 times more likely to be stopped than white people in England and Wales (stop-watch.org, 2019). As Danny Rose attests to, this doesn’t change when you drive a “nice” car – in fact, connotations of success often bring an even bigger spotlight.
Speaking to the Second Captains podcast this week, Rose said: “I got stopped by the police last week, which is a regular occurrence whenever I go back to Doncaster where I’m from. Each time it’s ‘Is this car stolen? Where did you get this car from? What are you doing here? Can you prove that you bought this car?'”
Danny Rose’s story will be sadly familiar for many black men and underlines an issue that still deserves all of our attention. This is the type of injustice that must be addressed in a post-BLM world, with education paramount to changing behaviour. While all police officers work to a “code of ethics”, I strongly believe that all police should be legally obliged to attend and pass an anti-racist training course to stop issues like this being so prominent.
I’ve been pulled over countless times by police in recent years, and my own treatment by police feels like my own personal groundhog day – with the same words, and the same accusations, being levelled at me by officers time and time again.
The microaggressions are obvious at every step. The way the police look at me when they drive past, the way I’m followed for miles, or even how they slow down to intimidate me.
In every case, my stop and searches have been “drug related”. The officers persistently ask me how I have obtained my vehicle. I remember being in handcuffs on one occasion whilst an officer sniggered as I told him what I did for a living.
There is an automatic assumption that when a man of colour is seen with nice things or in nice environments, it is automatically associated with the proceeds of crime. This is not the case.
There needs to be more recognition in our society that young black men can be successful.
It’s actually a simple equation. Hard work equals success. But it’s a truth that many still find difficult to accept. Through my eyes, I see a lot of disbelief that we are capable of setting goals and reaching them through hard work.
But this is exactly what Danny Rose has done. He has reached the top of his profession through a mix of talent and hard work. 14 years as a professional baller. Represented his country at the World Cup. Made the PFA Team of the Year in back-to-back seasons. But he’s still not respected – not by the police, or by society at large when he speaks up.
You only have to look at the majority of comments in response to Danny’s story to make a judgment on whether racism exists in this country. People continually call Danny Rose “a victim” for speaking up on issues concerning his race, with many people saying “it’s always him”.
Danny Rose should never stop using his voice. Only by speaking up and having these types of conversations will people become more aware of the systemic racism that still exists in the UK, and start pushing for the change we need to see.
Dean George has donated his fee for this article to The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise founded in 2019 by young people to address the lack of Black British history in the UK school curriculum.