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The Centre of Social Justice in Sport and Society highlights the importance of Black History Month

2020 will be remembered for many reasons: the widely publicised and senseless deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor; the Women’s National Basketball Association’s partnership with the ‘Say Her Name’ campaign to raise awareness of the injustices experienced by Black women; ‘taking the knee’ increasingly being adopted by athletes prior to various sporting events; COVID 19 disproportionately affecting Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and exacerbating inequalities; and Black Lives Matters protests throughout major cities across the globe.

Published on 05 Oct 2021
Coach and student playing sport

These events demand change.

Social justice work has always underpinned the Carnegie’s School of Sports courses and teaching, as well as being the heartbeat of the Research Centre for Social Justice in Sport and Society’s (CSJ) research activities. Indeed, the CSJ has a strong legacy of addressing multiple social inequalities including gender, disability, sexuality, race and ethnicity.

In February 2020, it rebranded and repurposed having previously been the Research Centre for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (The DEI).

The DEI laid the roots for the CSJ for its ground-breaking critical research in the fields of sport, leisure, physical activity, health, and PE. Scholars including Emeritus Professor Anne Flintoff, Emeritus Professor Jonathan Long, Emeritus Professor Kevin Hylton, Dr Beccy Watson, and Dr Ben Carrington, who are still affiliated or working within the School today, led the field on such intersectional approaches in the critical, social analysis of these fields.

Their work highlighted (and continues to do so) the deeply embedded cultural and systemic issues that drive the inequalities we still see in sport and activity.

The DEI’s work and legacy continues today within the CSJ.

Scholars such as Drs Tom Fletcher and Dan Kilvington who are tackling online hate, social media, and European Football Championships; Dr Annette Stride whose work addresses how the connections between gender and ethnicity, disability and sexuality influence people’s involvement in activity and PE; Dr Jon Dart who is working to challenge sport and social inequality particularly related to ethnicity, social class, and gender; Dr Chris Kay who is leading work on diversity and outdoor sport participation; Dr Nicky Clarke who is leading research into race equality in University footballing workforces; and Prof Leanne Norman who is addressing how gender and ethnicity intersect in sports leadership and coaching all demonstrate the Centre’s ongoing commitment to tackling race, ethnicity, and social justice.

Indeed, colleagues from across the CSJ are all involved in, and driven by the commitment to social change and justice in their respective fields.

Looking forwards to this October, Black History Month, we want to take the opportunity to celebrate the work of the next generation of scholars emerging from Leeds Beckett University and more specifically, the Carnegie School of Sport.

What unites these scholars is their passion for addressing social inequalities, providing opportunities for marginalised voices to be heard, and enacting change.

Nathan Reid begins our blog series with his piece on ‘What Black History Month means to me’. He discusses how BHM provides him an opportunity to reconnect with his roots having been born in England to parents from the Caribbean. Nathan draws on this to introduce his PhD on the experiences of Black male managers in English men’s football.

Dr Ruth Brazier continues our Black History Month CSJ blog series by introducing her PhD research. Ruth’s highlights the importance of recognising difference in our classrooms and encourages PE practitioners to consider how to be more inclusive in their teaching.

Becky Fairlie-Clark, CEO of the Cricket Supporters’ Association and CSJ / CSS student, then discusses tackling racism in English cricket, belonging and inclusion / exclusion, and introduces her DProf research into diversity and inclusion in the governance of the sport.

Our new PhD students in the CSJ, Kate Marks and Jonny Allen talk in their blogs how they are considering race and ethnicity in their studies. Kate’s work will focus on the experiences of women in sports coaching and sports leadership roles, whilst Jonny will be considering the sport and physical activity experiences of looked-after young people seeking asylum.

Inspired by the research led in the DEI and now supported within the CSJ, our group of early career researchers and talented PhD scholars demonstrate our work related to race, ethnicity, sport and activity lies in very capable hands. BHM is a chance to celebrate our research here in the University, School of Sport, and the CSJ.

We are proud to be at the forefront of such research that is making a difference to not only academia, but just as importantly, to lives, communities, practice, and policy.

If you would like to know more about The CSJ, follow us on Twitter: @TheCSJ_Sport.

Professor Leanne Norman

Professor / Carnegie School Of Sport

Leanne is a Professor of Sport and Sociocultural Studies and Director of the Research Centre for Social Justice in Sport and Society within the Carnegie School of Sport. Her research utilises a critical sociological lens to examine sport organisational and coaching cultures to address gender equity and diversity within sport coaching workforces.

Dr Annette Stride

Course Director and Reader / Carnegie School Of Sport

Annette is a Principal Lecturer and Course Director in the Physical Education Academic Group where she teaches on, and oversees provision of, the Physical Education undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes. Her teaching is underpinned by research with a social justice agenda.

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