Ashton Hewitt Dragons Wing On Race And The Importance Of Speaking Out

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Ashton Hewitt Dragons Wing On Race And The Importance Of Speaking Out

Dragons rugby player Ashton Hewitt has become an influential advocate for racial equality.

“Half Welsh, half Jamaican, and proud of it” – the 25-year-old wing has been vocal on social media during the Black Lives Matter movement and has earned praise for speaking out.

To mark Black History Month, Hewitt tells BBC Sport Wales about the importance of education and why he wants to use his profile as an elite athlete to continue the conversation about race.

I sort of slipped into being vocal on social media.

I defended somebody I knew, Welsh sprinter Sam Gordon. A troll gave him some abuse about not looking Welsh while he was doing an interview about representing his country.

I tweeted in his defence which led to an onslaught of abuse from trolls and I quickly became the target.

It all started from there and that was my first experience of being as vocal as I have been on social media. It all came a bit thick and fast and became a bit overwhelming to start.

It took me a bit longer to suss it out than I would have liked in terms of answering everyone, but eventually I got my head around it.

It is a platform I have been utilising to keep the conversation going and keep people thinking about the issue.

The vast majority has been positive. I have had so much support from people all over and especially the rugby community.

Not only Dragons and Wales fans but from all over and people from outside the rugby community. The support has been amazing and far outweighs the negative trolls.

I am at a stage where now luckily they can jump to my defence if anybody comes for me on Twitter, which is great.

Why ‘toxic’ Katie Hopkins was taken off Twitter

Katie Hopkins, the former reality TV contestant, was removed from Twitter for sending an abusive message to Hewitt.

I am not a fan. I don’t follow her and it started when Marcus Rashford did the letter to the Government for school meals.

She had some horrible things to say about what Marcus was doing. I did not mention her in my tweet, I just said “Katie Hopkins is toxic”.

She responded with something and it eventually got her kicked off Twitter, which a lot of people are praising me for.

That is down to the people who reported her and were not taking the rubbish she was coming out with.

Why I won’t just ‘stick to rugby’

I have had it a lot with people just saying “stick to rugby” and things along those lines.

Whether you are a sportsperson or not, you should be entitled to your view or opinion and often you will find the people criticising you are the same people who bang on about free speech.

For people who don’t think that sportspeople should have a preference or not to be vocal on certain issues, I think you need to understand the individual and their experiences and what is important to them.

We are just people in the same way. Marcus Rashford and I have had our experiences.

People who are in positions of influence especially need to be enabled and encouraged to be vocal on what they care about and what they feel matters.

Black Lives Matter is about equality, not politics

There has been a lot of confusion around Black Lives Matter, the movement, the organisation and that whole conversation can be misunderstood and misinterpreted.

I thought it was important to get across what I mean by BLM, and why I support it and take the knee.

https://www.bbc.com

Black Lives Matter for me is just a movement for racial equality. It started as a protest movement against police brutality in America but a lot of the injustices that can be seen in America are in the UK as well.

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It is important to be part of a collective movement that is only about equality.

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There is no real politics about it, we are not taking a knee because we are Marxists. There is that narrative floating around that is often used against the movement.

If I take a knee that is me supporting the movement in a step towards equality for black people in society.

Ashton Hewitt Dragons Wing On Race And The Importance Of Speaking Out

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