Dragons player Ashton Hewitt has received widespread support for his PRO14 article exposing racism that is prevalent in rugby and society as a whole. A first-person piece by the winger will appear in all Guinness PRO14 programmes this weekend and next to amplify the message of Rugby Against Racism.
Being a person of Welsh and Jamaican heritage, he wrote about what ‘black lives matter’ means to him, his experience of racism growing up and the positivity and progress that has come from speaking out and starting these conversations.
The online response to his article has been hugely positive, as neither Hewitt nor the Dragons have shirked away from a sensitive subject. In the message, he addressed the support he has received in the past online, although it has not been without abuse, which unfortunately comes with the territory on social media.
He said: “While it’s not always easy to be confronted with opinions you do not agree with, as well as the overwhelming abuse dished out by Twitter trolls, I’m pleased to be able to say that the positivity that has come as a result of speaking out about racism outweighs the negativity.
“Furthermore, I can’t express how encouraging the support from fans has been. It has truly shown how great the game of rugby is, with it not only being Dragons fans sending me positive messages and shutting down the trolls of Twitter in my defence but rugby fans from all over (although some have wished for a bad performance when playing their team!).”
? Why It Matters: @Ashton_Hewitt
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) October 2, 2020
The 25-year-old has been commended for helping expose the racism he and others have faced, which he explained “has come as a shock to many of the people in the rugby community”. This lack of knowledge of what people in Hewitt’s position experience is perhaps why this article has been deemed so pivotal.
PRO14 CEO Martin Anayi was quick to praise a “role model” like Hewitt in sharing this message. He said: “Racism and discrimination have no part in our game, or in our society, and we must actively push and strive for a fully equal playing field in everything we do.
“I’d like to thank him for his drive and passion, indeed for challenging us to do better and encourage everyone to take a few minutes over the weekend to read what he has to say.”
Ashton called out the PRO14 some weeks ago on Twitter after noticing that the unity moment which had happened prior to the matches when the league restarted in August was discontinued.
When you ask, who are your first black heroes, in future years don’t be surprised if many more name you again. Many people have just not even thought about the experiences you and many others have endured. I loved this article.
Please keep talking
— CoDAtim (@codatim) October 2, 2020
Nice work Ashton. You have support of the vast majority of Welsh rugby fans, a number that will only grow if you keep speaking and talking as eloquently as this.
— Michael (@welshboymick) October 2, 2020
Great read Ashton, and really pleasing to see that there's been support from all levels at the club. Good to be able to find out more about what @PositiveFutures are able to achieve as well. Keep doing what you're doing.
— Jon ?? ??????? (@jonnarbett) October 2, 2020
It is important we are all willing to speak about sensitive topics as we push towards a fairer society. There is no reason not to speak & something we should all want to do. Its great to see someone with the ability to speak to such a big audience using that ability so wisely.
— Phil Scully (@philscully) October 2, 2020
Well done @ashton_hewitt . Please take a moment to read this, it is insightful, honest and informative. It’s made me reflect and think about the levels of ignorance that exist still today.
Speaking truth to power is a brave thing to do, respect! https://t.co/s9BsWcxorl
— David Buttress (@davidjusteat) October 2, 2020
If you don’t follow @ashton_hewitt i recommend you do. A 1st hand view of the way people are treated when they stand up for something bigger than themselves. Keep fighting the good fight. Also if you think rugby has some moral high ground look at the comments he gets. https://t.co/yR0jJcCoql
— Karl Cross (@topoftheprops) October 2, 2020
Excellent article Ashton: “I’d like to think that most would agree to taking a stand against racism. I’d really love, and appreciate, if everybody just asked questions and gave a little time to learn a bit more about the issues and the ways in which they can be tackled.” https://t.co/7QdlR80NmW
— Carolyn Hitt (@carolyn_hitt) October 2, 2020
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