Milton Keynes-born Olympian launches #IsthisYou social media campaign to fight racial discrimination
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Derek, who was born in Milton Keynes, set up the #IsthisYou social media campaign alongside friend and fellow athlete John Regis.
And it has already seen Olympic legends and well-known people from the world of sport and entertainment helping the cause, including Rugby star Martin Offiah MBE and DJ Spoony.
Well known for his exploits on the track and BAME Community member, 54-year-old Derek has purposely kept quiet during the Black Lives Matter movement, which has dominated the headlines this summer amidst the coronavirus crisis.
His new co-campaign, characterised by the #IsThisYou hashtag, aims to switch up conversations around the BAME community as racist victims, and came after a period of reflection.
“I didn’t want to wade into the BLM movement this summer and play my part in a generic way," said Derek.
“There were certain things going off, like Blackout Tuesday, that were great but didn’t really get to the root or cause of what everyday people experience in the BAME community.”
“I thought we could do something that brings to light individuals’ experiences in ethnic minorities, in order to help perpetrators understand how certain language they use can be perceived.”
Redmond, who won the hearts of the nation at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, said how a video of singer Leona Lewis gave him and John the motivation they needed for the campaign.
In a widely shared video, the former X Factor star describes how a store worker racially profiled herself and her dad in an antiques store, before the worker changed her behaviour once she realised Lewis’ celeb status.
“It got me thinking, there are so many instances of everyday racism that goes unseen or unheard,” said Derek.
“Often you’ll find people say or do something that is racist without genuinely realising. They should know better, but that’s what this campaign is about, everyday scenarios from people of all ages and backgrounds that are still prevalent in our society but don’t really get shouted about.”
In one of the first #IsThisYou videos, Derek explains how an older man at one of his after dinner speaking engagements praised the runner before making a prejudice comment:
“His daughter had done really well in a major running race, so he wanted to discuss it with me. He called her over and after we discussed her result, he said ‘yes 4th was the best she could manage, she was never going to outrun your lot’,” referring to Derek’s skin colour.
“I was so shocked and surprised, but it did get me thinking about the undertones in language that really need to change.
“What I’m hoping through #IsThisYou is that aren’t we aren’t aggressive or confrontational in our efforts but that we can help people realise their behaviour is wrong.
“Change of course is a long and difficult path but hopefully this will at least play a part in raising awareness in a relatable and human way.
“What’s more, I hope it can be a platform and extend out to other minority groups to share their experiences, whether it be those discriminated by race, religion or sexuality.
So far, stars from across the sporting world such as Martin Offiah MBE, Marlon Devonish and Paula Dunn have shared their stories of discrimination in a bid help Redmond and Regis’ cause.
Its hoped that with more stories set to come in over the upcoming days and months, #IsThisYou can be an educational force for good in difficult times.
To learn more about #IsThisYou, go to Derek Redmond’s Instagram here
Now retired from competitive athletics and focusing on being a full-time motivational speaker, Derek was one of Britain’s most talented and celebrated 400m sprinters of the 1980s and 1990s.
Unfortunately his career was plagued by injury, but this didn’t stop him winning numerous gold medals. Now a well-known and inspiring keynote speaker and media personality, Derek is known to speak about perseverance, drive and determination and peak performance.