Why Working Out Isn’t Working Out with Darryl Edwards – Part 2

In part one of my conversation with Darryl Edwards, we explored his journey from ill health to celebrating his body with playful movement.

The second half of our conversation was just as fascinating, but we turned our attention to how we might cure an illness which is plaguing us worldwide and has done for many years – racism and the injustices that arise from it.

Our conversation was open and honest. Frankly, these are the conversations we all need to start having if we want to rid the world of racism, and create a genuinely fair and just world. If we can do that, we will all see the benefits.

Read on to learn more about Darryl’s experiences of racism, what’s changed and what hasn’t, and the reasons he feels optimistic.

The racism Darryl has experienced

It didn’t take long for Darryl to first experience prejudice based on nothing more than the colour of his skin.

“I grew up in a very multicultural environment – I wasn’t really aware of cultural differences, I knew there were certain things that were different to my neighbours, but I just felt like another human being.”

“It was when I went to primary school, at 5 or 6 years old, I do remember another kid using a racial slur. I went home to my parents and explained what happened.” With a sigh, Darryl recalled his parents explaining: “Son, this is what happens and it’s going to continue to happen and we’re not always going to be there to help you navigate this, but here are some realities you need to be aware of. Here is your history.”

Darryl left university with exceptional qualifications and was ready to apply himself in the working world. He recalled his parents saying to him: “Work hard, get your education, and you can do whatever you want…” but “doors were slammed in my face left right and centre.”

Darryl acknowledges that struggling to get work isn’t always about race, but when being promised a job over the phone and then being turned away when they saw his face, it’s hard to believe he was on a level playing field.

And it didn’t change as he found more professional success. He would be stopped just as often driving his Aston Martin as he was driving a beaten-up old Rover. Even to this day, Darryl finds himself being singled out by security guards in shops.

Things have changed…but racism has stayed the same

Darryl readily admits that we’ve made progress and the landscape has shifted, “It is easier for someone like myself to progress in many ways than it was before, no doubt about it.”

He sees this in personal interactions with friends, colleagues, and strangers, “It would be ludicrous to say that every white person I meet is racist. I certainly know if I went back 50 years, there’d be far more overt displays of racism. The National Front marched in front of my house when I was a kid. That doesn’t happen to me now, so there’s significant progress.”

But whilst individual perceptions of race, racism, and justice have shifted, there are still deeper-rooted issues that show no signs of abating – yet.

“What hasn’t changed so much is this systemic racism – the bias, the things that mean I am more likely to get stopped when I am driving my car, I am likely to be questioned walking down the street.”

Darryl has to consider when and where he goes on runs, after experiences of being stopped by police in the past, with incidents like this occurring “so many times.”

“There is loads of research out there that shows exactly the same CVs with the names changed” and, incredibly, the CVs that use foreign-sounding names perform worse than those with familiar names.

“It is not about an individual’s actions, this is about the fabric, the DNA of our history that affects us today.”

Darryl’s reasons for optimism in the fight against racism

Whilst Darryl is firm in his belief that racism is still prevalent and affecting us in our day-to-day lives, he is “optimistic”.

“I feel, on this occasion, this is the first time that I’ve witnessed more uncomfortable conversations.”

Darryl referred back to our conversation in part one: “It’s a bit like our health and wellness chat earlier, about embracing discomfort and the challenge of taking the difficult path. There’s more of that happening now… We probably wouldn’t have had this conversation a year ago.”

These conversations and people’s willingness to engage in them indicates a deeper consideration for the change that we need to make as a population.

Darryl believes it’s something of a moment of reckoning, “Those who will always continue to feel the way they do will probably continue to feel that way, those who have always wanted to champion this have got even more reason to feel as if it’s worth doing, and those who are on the fence are fed up of getting splinters and decide to follow what’s right for humanity.”

Can I set you a challenge?

You don’t have to accept it, but I’d love it if you do consider it.

Have a conversation like this.

Ask someone you know if they feel ready and up for a difficult conversation about race, about racism, and the part we all play in these systems that oppress people for completely unjust reasons.

Just a with our health, the only way we’re going to make the progress we so desperately need to make is if we start doing what’s difficult.

On the other side of difficulty is health, wealth, and happiness.

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