Wigan Athletic star Chey Dunkley on why 'Black Lives Matter' - and not just 'as a fad'

‘Education, education, education’...that is the message of hope from Chey Dunkley to ensure the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement leads to real change.
Chey DunkleyChey Dunkley
Chey Dunkley

The Wigan Athletic defender has been vocal on social media following the death of George Floyd in America last month.

And in an exclusive interview with Wigan Today, he says he’s never been more optimistic in the battle for racial equality.

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“It’s disappointing this is still happening in 2020, it’s bad,” he said.

“Obviously it’s been going on for a number of generations now, and I do think there have been strides made – with the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and so on.

“They have forced the issue, and we have seen signs of improvement.

“But on the other hand we are so far away from where we should be.

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“And it is so, so important to spread that awareness, and to improve the education.

"At the moment, it’s all about ‘Black Lives Matter’, and we’re hoping that continues, that it’s not just a fad.

“It’s something I strongly believe in, and hopefully we can get to a point where there is true equality, and basic human rights for all – and not just black people, but other ethnic minorities too.”

Dunkley believes the issue should be addressed at a young age, with children being taught about racial integration as part of the curriculum.

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“That is something that could be put forward...teaching of diverse cultures – black, white, Asian, everything – as mandatory like English, maths and science,” he explained.

“The more we can learn about each other, and understand each other’s cultures, the better we can go about living in harmony.

“Of course there’ll be barriers to that... children will be going to school and coming home to parents who still have that ignorance, or stubbornness.

“But that’s unavoidable, and the more we can spread the awareness, and educate ourselves and each other.

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“It might not even come in my lifetime, but for future generations, we’ll have moved on, and got that little bit closer to the end goal.

“I do not for one minute believe that racism comes from within – it is a learned process.

"And the younger generation have so much more of an open mind, and they take in so much more of their surroundings.”

The ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign will be highlighted this weekend when the message will replace players’ names on the backs of shirts in the Championship as well as the Premier League.

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“I fully support the EFL and the Premier League for doing this,” Dunkley acknowledged.

“And it’s not just them, it’s other big companies – Sony, Yorkshire Tea, PG Tips – all getting behind the message.

“We’ve probably reached a point now where we’ve never got to in the past, with so many people hearing the message.

“And the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign has been going on for some time, it’s not something that’s just popped up.

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“I think maybe the George Floyd incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and hopefully the message will continue to get across to as many people as possible.”

Sadly, Dunkley has first-hand experience of racism, going back to his childhood in the West Midlands.

“As a kid, yes, I was racially abused,” he revealed. “My way of dealing with it was to turn a blind eye to it, a ‘These things happen’ mentality.

“I was educated by my mum and dad, who were also racially abused. I had that sit down with them, and it was important to have that sit down.

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“If I hadn’t had that, I might have been wondering why this was happening, and it doesn’t make sense.

“But again it comes down to education. The area we were in maybe wasn’t multi-cultural, it’s people who weren’t used to seeing people of colour.

“If you don’t know about another culture, you might use racial slurs, because it’s different... it’s territorial.

“I’ve never really had racial abuse in football, with something said or done directly to me.

"But if you look into football on the whole,you have to say there is a problem there – and it does need to change.”