Luther Burrell compelled to speak out about racism amid Black Lives Matter movement support
Burrell describes attending a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Manchester as a "phenomenal experience" and that the event highlighted in his mind that society can no longer "turn a blind eye" to racism
Last Updated: 11/06/20 3:06pm
Warrington Wolves centre Luther Burrell has told Sky Sports News how he had "become numb" to racism over the years but the momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement has given him the conviction to speak out.
The former England rugby union international, who made his name with Northampton Saints before switching codes to join Super League side Warrington last year, warned "being silent is just not working anymore".
Although he has not experienced racism on the rugby field, Burrell says he has done so off it and feels now is the time to speak out in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis last month.
Speaking to Sky Sports Rugby League reporter Jenna Brooks, Burrell said: "I have had racial banter for the majority of my life, and I have just become numb to it and I just laugh.
"Remarks that I would get is, 'Luther, you're not really black though, are you? You are really black for a white guy aren't you?' C'mon what does that mean?! It is just ridiculous."
Warrington launched a special edition of their home shirt in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on Tuesday to show their solidarity towards the movement, with all profits raised from the shirt sales to be donated to the Show Racism the Red Card charity.
Burrell, who is mixed race, added: "It just becomes acceptable for people to say this to you. You just become numb to it, your skin becomes thicker and it just becomes the norm.
"That is why in this day and age… it is also me probably just being weak or feeling that I can't speak up about anything like this because I am [perceived to be] speaking out of context and I am going to be judged for saying these remarks."
The former England international said he has been called a "coconut" during off-field conversations and he had accepted it because it was the "done thing".
"You can't just turn a blind eye to it anymore"
Luther Burrell on racism in society
Burrell described attending a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Manchester as a "phenomenal experience" and that the event highlighted in his mind that society can no longer "turn a blind eye" to racism.
"It is about time people just wake up and understand that this [racism] does go on," he said.
"You can't just turn a blind eye to it anymore. It goes on, it is there and it is not acceptable. If you disagree with something, then you should be able to speak up. Because being quiet and being silent is just not working anymore."
Burrell also echoed Raheem Sterling's comments that there should be greater BAME representation within coaching roles within his sport and urged candidates to not miss out on opportunities that present themselves.
"I feel proud that I can now speak up," the 32-year-old said. "I feel proud that other people in the black community can finally speak up and have their say and get a lot of heartache, upset and frustration off their chest."