In a special edition of the Official Everton Podcast, Victor Anichebe and Ben Osu of the Anthony Walker Foundation (AWF) shared their experiences as black men growing up in Liverpool.
The BBC One drama Anthony, which was broadcast at 8.30pm on Monday and can be viewed on the iPlayer, will revisit the murder of 18-year-old Anthony in Huyton 15 years ago, and imagine the life he could have had.
Former Everton striker Anichebe was 17 at the time of Anthony’s death and profoundly affected by the racially-motivated killing.
He told Osu, Strategy Lead of the AWF, about his own encounters with racism after moving with his parents from Nigeria to England, “being the only black person in class” and how growing up in Blundell Sands were “there were not many black families” living around him. Anichebe also talks about the subtle racism he faced growing up when he would would ask to “go home” or “when are you going home?” and how as a child he innocently brushed it off but it impacting him as he got older. He also shared how horrified he was at the encounters his mum, who worked as a nurse in the region, suffered doing her job helping people.
The pair talked about the ongoing campaign for racial justice after unarmed black man George Floyd died following his arrest in Minneapolis – and the emotions triggered by events of the past two months. Anichebe recalls how he has been stopped or pulled over by Police growing up and it was only really when he became well-known as a footballer that the Police would let him go easily. He reflects how on one occasion (when he was out injured and living in Knutsford) that both he and his friend (former Liverpool player Lee Peltier) were stood at outside a jewellers and to their surprise were met with sirens and police cars and accused by officers of “eyeing up” a jewellery store with the officer in question demanding to see their ID. As the two footballers refused to hand over their ID the back-up Police officers who arrived at the scene identified them as footballers and the incident passed.
When asked about racism in football Anichebe called for more opportunities across the game for black people beyond coaching and questioned whether former black players would get the opportunities at the highest level.
While revealing how he was offered the opportunity of playing under Sol Campbell at Macclesfield, Victor highlights how the former England international had to start at the Cheshire club and although he did the impossible job of keeping them up against the odds, Campbell still never received or was talked about for any big jobs.
Both Victor Anichebe and Ben Osu feel that education is the best method engaging people on the topic of racism.
To find out more about the Official Everton Podcast and how to listen, click here.
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