Former Arsenal footballer Ian Wright taught his kids how to prepare for racism
Ian Wright has opened up about warning his children about coming up against racism from a young age.
The former Arsenal footballer recently teamed up with Gillette’s #MyRoleModel campaign ahead of Father’s Day, and he lifted the lid on being a role model for his eight children children.
Son Shaun Wright-Phillips, who he adopted aged three, previously thanked the England ace for helping him cope with racial abuse in his own football career.
And, speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk, the 55-year-old explained part of being a dad means you have to have chats with your children and prep them for any eventuality, including tough topics like racism and exclusion.
‘Those things just have to be [spoken about],’ he told us. ‘Racism is ignorance, you try to explain that to them. Even more so when you’re in a position where you’re a focal point. At the end of the day, racism can’t hurt you physically. It can hurt you in respect of what people say.
‘When you’ve got the right people around you who can explain what racism is, and you let them know, it’s fine. Racism is for ignorant people, it’s not for intelligent people.
‘Once you explain that to kids and speak to them in that way, and you say “Can you honestly comprehend disliking someone because of the colour of their skin, or even that someone has ginger hair, someone who is disabled?”
‘It’s not just racism, I told them about everything to do with discriminating people and excluding them.’
But he insisted that it wasn’t a hard conversation to have, as he wanted to make sure his kids were fully equipped.
‘I said that to all of them, my sons and my daughters. I sat them down. It wasn’t just because [Shaun] became a top footballer, he needed to know the things he needed to know. I just wanted to make sure he was well equipped and knew what to do with problems he’s going to get.
‘It’s a father and son conversation about something that is going to crop up in life, that you have to make sure you deal with in the right way.
‘That’s what you have to do as a father, you have to make a path for them so they can realise this happens, this will happen, and this is the best way to deal with it.’
Ian has also been working with Gillette on their #MyRoleModel campaign, helping demonstrate what ‘being the best’ means for men today, celebrating self-expression, internal and external well-being, camaraderie, and dependability.
Discussing why he decided to get involved with the campaign, he said: ‘Even though I’m a father, and have been in situations where I’ve played football in front of people… You naturally and automatically become a role model, because people like what you do, they like the way you are, so you have to start acting accordingly. Start acting with a bit more responsibility.
‘That’s something you obviously have to do as a father, and as a role model, even more so.
‘You’re somebody who people look up to, but I always say, “You want to be better, you want to do better”. You hope that people [make their own] path and move forward.’
However, he insisted ‘role model’ is absolutely not an overused term, adding: ‘You don’t even need to be famous to be a role model, you just need to act accordingly, act right for people want to be like you.
‘Role model is not used enough. There aren’t enough role models, there aren’t enough people of real calibre that you look up to and think, “That’s a good role model”. There are some bad role models out there. Especially when you look at some people who flaunt money and wealth.
‘We need more good role models.’
This Father’s Day, Gillette is celebrating all the role models that help you be your best. Join Gillette in thanking the people who’ve made a difference in your life. #MyRoleModel
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