Mike Wedderburn: Black Lives Matter is a cry for help, not an attack on white people

Sky Sports News presenter Mike Wedderburn writes an emotional piece on why it is so important to understand the purpose behind the Black Lives Matter movement

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Sky Sports News presenter Mike Wedderburn explains the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement and why a banner flown over Burnley's match at Manchester City was so offensive.

There seems to be a misconception that Black Lives Matter means that white lives don't.

That is the only reason I can imagine that someone would think it is a good idea to fly a banner over a football stadium only minutes after all the players and staff took a knee in support of a movement asking only for equality.

It's not the 'Black Lives Matter More' Movement. It is simply that they matter.

George Floyd wasn't a one-off and don't kid yourself that it only happens thousands of miles away. It happens here.

A banner reading 'White Lives Matter Burnley' is towed by a plane above the stadium during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Burnley at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester
Image: A banner reading 'White Lives Matter Burnley' is towed by a plane above the stadium during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley at the Etihad Stadium

In 1981, Yvonne Ruddock, a black 16-year-old, was celebrating her birthday until a fire put paid to the celebrations. She was one of 13 killed. In one line of inquiry the police treated the victims as suspects in the cause of their own deaths. Locally, many believed the fire to be the result of an arson attack. Two inquests returned an open verdict.

In 1985, the police shot and paralysed Cherry Groce in her own home in front of her children as they searched for her son, who no longer lived with her. A week later a police raid resulted in Cynthia Jarrett's death, another innocent black woman.

In 2011 musician Smiley Culture died during a police raid. An Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry, the result of which was not made public, found that there were no grounds for criminal charges against the officers involved. Smiley's family said at the time they felt 'let down' by the inquiry.

This is not a definitive list, it is just a snap shot. This is reality for black people. Young black males are taught how to make sure they don't antagonise the police when they are stopped.

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Burnley captain Ben Mee says he and the players are embarrassed after a banner displaying the words 'White Lives Matter Burnley' was flown over the Etihad Stadium in the first half of their defeat against Manchester City

So, to the people who flew the banner over the Etihad… understand that black people want a level playing field, an equal chance. That is all. Not more than you, just the same opportunities as you.

You may have heard the phrase 'White Privilege' and been antagonised by it. Don't be.

It doesn't mean that you live in the lap of luxury and spend your life deciding which magnum of champagne you will have with your dinner. It means that life is tilted in your direction to such an extent that you probably don't even notice.

When you walk around the shops is it assumed you are a criminal? Do the police stop you regularly because you look suspicious? If you are black the answer is yes. Is it for you?

In your business what colour are the people who have the power? What colour are the people who make the decisions? What colour is the manager of your favourite football team? What colour is the owner of your favourite football team?

The chances are that the answers are probably white and if you are white it has probably never crossed your mind to give it much thought. Have a think about it now. That is white privilege.

Black Lives Matter is not an attack on white people. It is a cry for help.

It is a declaration that we won't take the current situation anymore. But nothing changes without the help of white people.

That's why Burnley captain Ben Mee was so disappointed by the so-called 'fans' of his club and their banner. In his words they are 'just not getting it'.

If change is going to come then we need you to get it.

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