Sky Sports presenter Mike Wedderburn has issued a powerful speech to explain why Black Lives Matter does not mean that white lives do not matter, following the banner that was flown over the Etihad Stadium during Manchester City’s match with Burnley on Monday.
Wedderburn is one of the most familiar presenters on Sky Sport News, having first featured on the channel 22 years ago following a rugby union career that included playing for Premiership clubs Harlequins and Wasps, and he has remained a mainstay of their coverage during the lockdown period.
That has included the increased protests and support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has seen athletes of different colour and race from various sports join the growing calls for increased diversity and inclusion not just in sport, but in wall walks of life.
It followed the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American who died in police custody last month after a policeman forced his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, despite repeated complaints from the victims that he could not breathe.
Having reported on how the fallout from Floyd’s death has impacted the world of sport, Wedderburn was dismayed to witness the scenes on Monday night when a plane flew over the Etihad Stadium with the banner ‘White Lives Matter Burnley’ at the exact time that the players were taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
A Manchester City fan himself, Wedderburn felt compelled to write a moving column for Sky Sports to explain why Black Lives Matter is “not an attack on white people” but a “cry for help” with the support of white people, and he also recorded a solo piece to camera to convey his message.
Wedderburn said: “Many of you have been asking why the words on the banner over the Etihad last night are offensive. Taken in isolation of course they’re not, but in context they absolutely are. They are a deliberate challenge to the Black Lives Matter cause.
“To be absolutely clear: nobody is saying that white lives don’t matter. Of course they matter, but please try to understand that black people’s lives are not like those of the white population, who are viewed negatively and with suspicion. We’re watched as we walk around shops, we don’t hold positions of influence in organisations. A black person in a top business is likely to be on the catering staff or clearing bins. We get stopped and searched by the police – yes even television presenters.
“Life is simply tilted away from us.
“Black people have been murdered by members of organisations whose job it is to protect us, and there has been no comeback on those people. That’s not just in America, that’s here too. Our lives have not mattered. Black lives matter. Thank you.”
Wedderburn’s full column can be read here.