carnegieXchange: School of Sport

What Black History Month means to me

Carnegie School of Sport PhD student, Nathan Reid, shares with us what Black History Month means to him and the inspiration behind his PhD topic.

Nathan Reid head shot

I was born in Sheffield, England and my parents are from the Caribbean, arriving in England during the 1960s. As I was growing up, I never had a desire to do undertake my PhD or research ‘race’ academically because British history was not something that was embedded into my childhood. An interest in music, sport and exercise was where my desires were as a teenager. When I reflect on my time at secondary school in the late nineties, Black history was never a topic that was discussed unless people were referring to Black people in a derogatory way. Although Black History Month is celebrated throughout England during October, the question remains why Black history, which forms a large part of English history remains largely on the edge of the school curriculum.

In recent years, Black History Month has allowed me to reconnect with my roots and have thought provoking conversations with people that previously I wouldn’t have related to, as it allows me to share and enhance my knowledge with new people. It provides an opportunity to reflect on key moments from the past and present, whilst also looking forward to the future. Although I’m part of department at Leeds Beckett University that encourages diversity and inclusion, I work full time in an environment where I regularly experience subtle forms of racism. October within a non-academic workplace presents an opportunity to challenge the mindset and behaviours of others with material that people don’t see as targeted to just them.

The inspiration for my PhD, examining the experiences of Black male managers in English men’s football, is to help improve the knowledge of my children through what I have learnt, whilst adding to the great work of other academics who have provided texts and journals to me develop my understanding.  My research is underpinned by a Critical Race Theory framework, which allows me to challenge instances of racism from a broader position, as other Critical Race Theorists have shown. It is known that ‘racism’ continues to find new ways to emerge and reinvent itself within society, and in football it is able to develop at ease. However, the imbalance of Black managers is only one of the current issues in football, as the leadership structures in English football overall are distinctly sparse in relation to any level of diversity, whether that be for Black people, women, or the LGBT community to name a few. If we can further understand the journeys of past, present, and aspiring Black football managers, we should be able present findings that can unsettle the known norms in the future.

I understand that whist ever there are different ethnic groups in society racism is likely to remain, but I like so many of my colleagues want to be a part of society that strives to dismantle the current structures in place. I’m encouraged by the increased coverage that Black History Month continues to gain on an annual basis, with a wide range of industries taking time to develop specific events to celebrate during this period. This can only help with improving the knowledge of the future generations as they start to identify role models that look like them in leading positions within a variety of working environments. 

I look forward to contributing to the work of the CSJ further in the future.