Robbie Earle saddened by 'White Lives Matter Burnley' banner
Earle praises Burnley captain Ben Mee for reaction: "He was going through what we're going through, he's seeing it through the lens of a black man. That is change, that is progression."
Last Updated: 24/06/20 1:44pm
Robbie Earle says he is saddened that the 'White Lives Matter Burnley' banner has "hijacked" the Black Lives Matter movement, but says the reaction of Clarets captain Ben Mee has given him hope for the future.
The offensive banner was flown over the Etihad shortly after kick-off in Monday's match between Burnley and Manchester City - just moments after the players had taken a knee in support of Black Lives Matter.
Burnley immediately condemned the banner, while club captain Mee said he was "ashamed and embarrassed" in his post-match interview.
Sky Sports News presenter Mike Wedderburn released a video on Tuesday in response to the incident, explaining the purpose behind Black Lives Matter and his own experiences of racism.
Former Port Vale and Wimbledon midfielder Earle, who now works as a pundit for NBCSN, was brought to tears by the clip when speaking on the channel's Premier League Mornings show.
"As a black man I now live in America, I've almost got two different guises," Earle said.
"There's a black man who wears a shirt and tie, who's on TV and talks in an English voice and gets treated a certain way. There's another black man who wears hoodies and sweats and lives in the city and comes up against things, and there's three things I would say.
"There's the nudge. The nudging is, once a week, once every couple of weeks you walk into an establishment and you see the nudge go and you see heads turn and people looking. That happens on a regular occurrence.
"You see the crossover. The crossover is, I might be walking down the street and I see, usually a female in fairness, I'll see her start to walk and she'll get her bag and she'll cross over the road and then as she crosses over the road I sort of think to myself, 'Is she going to stay on that side'? I walk along and turn back and she's crossed back over. There's a stereotype of a black man that is fearful.
"Mike talks about, we go into a store. I call it the man-to-man. The moment I walk into a store, the security guard will be 10 yards away from me, almost watching my movement.
"Those are the things that happen on a daily basis, those are the reasons why Black Lives Matter is so important. I was so saddened it got hijacked yesterday [Monday] because we have so much work to do."
Earle says the reaction of Mee, Burnley and the Premier League has given him optimism for the future - as has the defiant response from black NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, who has vowed to continue his fight for equality after a noose was found in his garage earlier in this month.
"The other thing that gave me hope is that Bubba Wallace said yesterday, he took off his mask and said 'You won't break this smile.' I almost took off mine was like, 'You won't break our spirit'," added Earle.
"When Ben Mee says the things he says, if you didn't see a picture of Ben Mee you'd think he's black. He was going through what we're going through, he's seeing it through the lens of a black man.
"That is change, that is progression, that's people standing with you in the fight, and if we can stand together in the fight, we have a chance."