Three generations of Hatters spoke passionately about Black History Month when visiting a local school last week, highlighting the need to be proud of who we are, and that racism is not okay in any walk of life.
Veteran striker Cameron Jerome was accompanied by U21s defender Avan Jones and Professional Player Development boss Adrian Forbes at Chiltern Academy to speak to the Year 10 GCSE PE class about their respective careers, with questions ranging from the impact of social media, to the highly debated topic of Ronaldo or Messi!
Speaking to the next generation of youngsters, whether they are to be involved with football in the future or not, is something Forbes was pleased to be able to do, saying: “I think it was brilliant. It is important we come to schools like this in our local community and give something back. The fact that it is a school which practically backs onto the training ground adds a bit more to it and hopefully it helps them moving forward with their GCSE course.”
Adrian, how important is Black History Month and what does it mean to you?
“From my point of view, I look at myself, my journey and the age I am now. Some of the learning I have got from Black History Month has given a better understanding of myself and who I am, so the capacity to come into a school like we have done today and give the pupils a bit of feedback, almost letting them know that we support you in calling out racism, we support you in making sure people understand that racism is not okay.
“It has been well documented in recent months, the comments that a lot of black players have faced on social media platforms, and it has also been well documented that social media platforms need to do more to eradicate it as much as we can.
"Will we ever do that? Who knows, but it is important that people like Cameron Jerome, Avan Jones and myself come out in support of Black History Month and certainly to a local school like we have done today.”
Cameron, racism is frequently seen on social media, how does this affect you?
“I think it is such a negative tool in terms of how it can affect mental health. It has been quite highly publicised with racism, questioning people’s religion and things like that. You have to have a really strong mindset and have thick skin.
"Today is an era where social media is used to communicate through all forms of life, I’m not a big fan of social media because of the negativity that comes with it, I don’t really care about anyone else’s opinion apart from mine and the people close to me, or the manager.
“If I’m in the stadium and I’m having a really good game, I don’t buy into the fact that the fans are clapping me and singing my name today, but then the next week when I have a bad game, the fans will be saying ‘he’s rubbish, he shouldn’t be playing’. You have to be true to yourself, be confident and believe in your ability.”
Avan, how was the experience for you?
“I think it was a great experience, especially being a local boy and being able to come to a local school. I feel personally that it (Black History Month) shouldn’t be celebrated for a month, it should be celebrated on a day-to-day basis. We should be proud to be who we are, I’m black and I’m proud.”
Click HERE to read more about Black History Month.