Duke Harrison-Hunter, is the equality, diversity and inclusion officer at Pompey in the Community, affiliated to Portsmouth FC themselves.
Duke discusses how he originally landed the role at PITC and explained that in his previous role in Southampton, he had been mentoring over 150 young people, from the ages of 16 to 24, all of whom had complex needs through youth offending backgrounds.
But like most things in life, all good things must come to an end and Duke seeked pastures new and he landed a role at Pompey in the Community as a result.
A fortnight ago, British football clubs, players and governing bodies all participated in a four-day social media boycott in an attempt to tackle abuse and discrimination on their platforms – and Portsmouth were on of these clubs.
Duke, who’s role with both PITC and Pompey themselves, deals with racism on a matchday and was an avid advocate of this social media blackout.
“I thought it was a good idea to be honest and I think we should do more of that, not just a one-off – we should do more of that blackout stuff – for people to understand they cannot go around abusing players or anyone online”
The EID officer continued and believes the individuals online abuse players and other social media users, because they are under the impression they are never going to encounter the people they’re abusing.
“If I am abusing that player online, I probably won’t get to see that person ever in my life, so it gives me the reason to abuse, as we’ll never (likely) meet, because they’re too famous… they think they’re never going to catch me, as I’ll never see them in person”
Social media platforms are all currently unregulated, meaning individuals can freely express their views, regardless of how offensive they are and largely, go unpunished, although there are exceptions to this.
Duke maintains hope that in the future, social media platforms will be regulated, but is unsure how well the regulation will be executed, stating “it (social media) needs to be regulated, but I’m not sure how well it would be regulated.”
Regardless as to whether social media platforms do become regulated, Duke believes that “people will learn over time” but does not see discrimination fading any time soon, stating “I think we will have discrimination for the next 10-15 years.”
Duke offered advice to anyone who has experienced discrimination online, stating: “Offer them the support and send them a link, because what they’re doing is not the one and try not to take to heart what they’re saying.”
Duke also works closely with the No Room For Racism campaign and explained his role with the organisation to me. His primary role with the anti-racism organisation is speak with different ethnic groups in the city of Portsmouth and help connect them together.
This year, through No Room For Racism, Duke began working with the Portsmouth Education Partnership (PEP) and the National Education Union to task schools in the Hampshire region to create a poster for Portsmouth to support the anti-racism organisation – and the initative is called One City – Many Cultures.
The campaign is launching between June and July and Duke has even managed to include members of the men’s and women’s first-team to record video messages in support of the campaign.
“Watch this space” is precisely what Duke said to me upon concluding this avenue of discussion, but I for one look forward to seeing the results of this campaign on social media later this summer.
Main photo: Portsmouth FC