‘Where are you from? No, where are you really from?’ How racism affects female athletes

‘Where are you from? No, where are you really from?’ How racism affects female athletes

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One in five sportswomen say they have witnessed or experienced racism in their sport

“It be the surprise in folk’s faces when they realise that it is doubtless you’ll presumably perhaps presumably neatly be fairly brown and you play for England.”

Whether or no longer it is some distance structural or spoken, overt or whispered, racism is unusual in society and sport.

Of the 537 BBC Elite British Sportswomen’s Gaze respondents, 20% acknowledged they’d skilled or witnessed racism within their sport.

Here, they command their tales.


Scotland cricketer Priyanaz Chatterji is drained of getting to continuously define where she’s from.

“‘The save are you from? But where are you truly from?’

“That’s an example of a micro-aggression. Each and each brown, shaded and numerous minority ethnic particular person on this country has been asked that question so over and over.

“My first solution will consistently be: ‘I’m from Scotland.’ And then they ask: ‘Oh, where are you truly from?’ ‘Dundee.’ And nonetheless: The save are you truly from?’ And I will dispute town.

“I undergo in mind a time in Australia after I had long gone to an outdoors cinema with a chum. We met up with some of their mates and that used to be the most foremost ingredient they asked me; where are you from? Then their subsequent question used to be: ‘The save are your dad and mom from?’ I dispute India and Pakistan, and then I asked them the same ingredient. And as well they, as white Australians, were so haunted. Obviously no-one had ever asked them that before. But why carry out they enjoy it be OK to ask where my dad and mom are from?

“It be this notion that you just, as a white particular person, are the default; you are the norm and any individual who deviates from that has to be justified and outlined. Does that in actuality must be the most foremost question you request from me? And why is my solution of Scotland so on the total challenged? I was born right here. I grew up right here. I’m no longer from wherever else.

“I truly enjoy white Scottish mates whose dad and mom are Irish, Polish, or English, nonetheless their Scottishness is rarely any longer incessantly challenged one day of the most foremost few sentences of assembly any individual. Yes, I truly enjoy assorted heritage and I’m contented with that heritage. But I’m additionally calm Scottish.

Priyanaz Chatterji catches the ball
Priyanaz Chatterji has played 19 Twenty20 matches for Scotland

“Other folks enjoy they’re upright being friendly and they make no longer realize the lukewarm response they fetch, within the occasion that they behold at all. But it surely’s no longer a one-off. Possess us – shaded and brown folk and numerous minority ethnic folk fetch asked that question the full time. It is so boring.

“Other instances, even with out having asked about my heritage, folk birth into random tales about India on the realization that I will for certain know what they’re talking about and be drawn to it, due to my brownness.

“I’m of South Asian heritage so plenty of my experiences of racism are specific to that. Different them characteristic things to carry out with meals, or curry. A membership crew-mate kept calling me ‘curry’ no topic me asking them no longer to and explaining why this used to be entirely spoiled. It took me several weeks of asking them to discontinue and no longer easy them on this before they indirectly stopped and referred to me by my title.

“When giving umpires my first title when coming on to bowl, I have been halfway through spelling it for them and they are saying: ‘That’ll carry out, received enough there.’ Other instances, after I’ve knowledgeable them a nickname, the answer is: ‘Oh, that’s the title of my native curry dwelling.’

“I had an incident after I was taking half in in a county match and, at that point in time, there used to be myself and one assorted British Asian lady within the crew. A man pulled out this photo for me to trace and it used to be of my crew-mate who, except for being brown, appears to be like nothing admire me. She wears a scarf and I make no longer. She has completely assorted facial facets to me. The fitting commonality is that we’re brown. I acknowledged: ‘That’s no longer me.’ And he’s admire: ‘Oh, yeah, it is doubtless you’ll presumably perhaps presumably neatly be the various one.’ That’s upright one example of many.

“Other folks are more fascinated by being called racist than the injury that doing racist things causes. They couldn’t realise it; in case you articulate them, they make no longer watch it to be.

“In their eyes, they’d presumably upright be joking. But it surely’s knowing the injury and inappropriateness of what they’re saying that won’t there for too many of us. Their phrases or actions, no topic how diminutive, are part of the difficulty.”


A British fencer, speaking anonymously, acknowledged monkey noises were “shockingly typical” when travelling with the crew.

“I grew up fencing with plenty of shaded athletes, that are magnificent to you for fencing, which doubtlessly involves mind as an especially elite, largely white sport. I was truly fortunate to be from a membership that particularly reached out to the neighborhood.

“I grew up on this very numerous membership. But then after we would streak, even when it is doubtless you’ll presumably perhaps presumably neatly be wearing the GB tracksuit, I would peek folk making monkey noises at my crew-mates, folk stopping and taking photos of them as although they’re aliens and staring. Here is the model of stuff that is shockingly typical, as neatly.

“We’re there representing our country. We’re already below huge stress. After we scheme, most opponents are stressful about their preparations. My shaded crew-mates are additionally having to preserve watch over the stress of going through these incidents at the venue, going through that exterior trauma and pressure as neatly, and having to compartmentalise that.

“There used to be a particular incident with my crew supervisor – any individual who’s at the center of our neighborhood and is shaded. In actuality what came about used to be a member of the public grabbed a bit of her hair in his hand and minimize it off. It used to be slightly magnificent.

“The incident used to be dealt with correctly, nonetheless it surely used to be a extremely violating 2nd. I enjoy it be an especially flagrant example of racism.

“Now, as a neighborhood, each person appears to be like to be going through this job of instructing ourselves, of taking a gaze again and tantalizing by moments that perhaps weren’t as obvious, nonetheless realising that there are many moments that are problematic.

“It couldn’t be as obvious as any individual grabbing on to any individual’s hair, nonetheless in case you add up all these diminutive things, they’ll additionally be detrimental.”


Shaunagh Brown
Shaunagh Brown represents England and Harlequins

England and Harlequins rugby participant Shaunagh Brown embraces being a goal model.

“The men’s sport is already 25 years in entrance of us. I enjoy time will most doubtless be a healer. I accept as true with vary will occur naturally nonetheless there’s no reason why we are in a position to’t fabricate things occur.

“Things that must no longer down to cash is making an effort to position your players of shade on the adverts; making them more public and doing more interviews with them. Honest correct reminding folk they are there and peculiar players for England, so that it is doubtless you’ll presumably perhaps presumably carry out it too. It be onerous to carry out it with England because on contract, it be upright me, and it may per chance presumably perhaps be fairly weird and wonderful if I was in each space.

“Being feminine and blended move, after I wear my hair out in an afro I accept that I am a personal of goal model to certain folk. If folk seeing me makes them enjoy, ‘truly I will play rugby’, then my job is accomplished.

“I in point of fact fetch pleasure from being assorted, having a weird and wonderful yarn to command and a weird and wonderful outlook on things – even things admire how I gaze after my pores and skin and the device in which I gaze after my hair.”


These are a vary of nameless responses from our uncover about.

  • “I truly enjoy been racially abused on the pitch, at training and on social media while taking half in.”
  • “I’m proud to issue that now we enjoy one among the most numerous and inclusive sports [cricket] within the country. Racism indubitably performs a bit, nonetheless, and I’ve witnessed racism – on the total ignorantly! – towards my crew-mates over the years. Selection must be well-liked and I enjoy having a unfold of religions and beliefs in my crew has taught me plenty about cultures I would never enjoy skilled if it wasn’t for sport.”
  • “I truly enjoy seen a community of followers shouting racial insults at the household of 1 among my crew-mates.”
  • “I’m white and I’m rather privileged to enjoy no longer skilled racism. I truly enjoy witnessed it in the case of folk treating my non-white crew mates otherwise – eg. asking them, even within the occasion that they’re on the British crew, where they are ACTUALLY from and the device in which carry out they articulate English so neatly.”
  • “Different folk are uneducated of the difficulties that folk of shade face and may per chance presumably perhaps additionally be ignorant to their struggles. There may per chance be additionally unfortunate representation in my sport of folk from assorted backgrounds, increasing a bubble attain.”
  • “Possess seen a coach fabricate a racist gesture towards an athlete of shade competing in opposition to his athlete who had upright been crushed by her.”
  • “I truly enjoy witnessed it staring at some sport nonetheless enjoy revered how they’ve been handled.”

Racism is one among the many issues raised by the BBC Elite British Sportswomen’s Gaze. BBC Sport will most doubtless be colorful a spotlight on the others with coverage one day of the week on the BBC Sport web space, BBC Radio 5 Are residing and BBC TV. More info may per chance presumably perhaps additionally be found right here.

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