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Laura Malcolm: You can celebrate black people without acknowledging race

Sonia Twigg, PA
·3 min read

England and Manchester Thunder netballer Laura Malcolm would like to see the achievements of people celebrated on merit and not by specifically acknowledging their race.

Malcolm, who has 31 caps for England, has previously revealed in an Instagram post how she grew up wishing she was white and that she was often followed around stores by security guards.

And the 29-year-old believes the way forward for society is to stop being so quick to put labels on people.

She told the PA news agency: “I think the focus shouldn’t necessarily be on – you can celebrate black people without saying ‘we’re celebrating black people’.

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“There can be interviews just talking about someone who is successful the same way you would everybody else without having to actually acknowledge that this is about race and things like that. I think going forward this is what we really need to be doing.

“It doesn’t need to be a subsection saying ‘black people’, it can just be people being celebrated and making sure that’s a diverse celebration for all races really.

“I think if the focus is on that, you might see less comments and less focus on the racial side of things and actually we’re just seeing a good diverse mix of people in different aspects of netball and sport.”

Malcolm was vice-captain of the Roses in South Africa in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic hit and has since taken a leadership role off the court, running a number of sessions for aspiring netball players on social media.

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But in June last year, Malcolm said she received some “backlash” after speaking about Black Lives Matter with Sky Sports in a video posted on YouTube.

Malcolm said: “It was actually really positive for me I felt, and it’s something that I talk about quite a lot.

“The comments were hidden and I think that’s probably a YouTube policy to be honest, once there’s a certain amount of negative comments – which is fine. But actually a lot of people don’t see that so they don’t think it’s a problem.

“But I like to talk about it and let people know that those negative comments are there because that is the problem that I know and we face quite a lot.

England’s Laura Malcolm receives her series medal at the Copper Box
England’s Laura Malcolm receives her series medal at the Copper Box (Nigel French/PA)

“So it’s quite an interesting one, because naturally those things get hidden because they’re negative and they should get hidden, but actually a lot of people don’t realise there’s a problem there because of that. That’s really the only backlash I’ve had.”

Malcolm is happy the world of netball is diverse – a thought she said is shared by England’s first black England netball player Jean Hornsby.

“When it comes to England Netball, I always happily talk,” Malcolm said.

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“It’s very diverse for me, I don’t have any issues within our playing group and it’s really lovely.

“It’s not a thing and actually I was speaking to Jean Hornsby the other day, and she also felt the same, that actually within our team we never experienced any issues or any racism.

“So that just is a testament to the kind of people within netball and the kind of communities that we have, it’s actually quite strong in that aspect and it has been for a long time.”