Leicester City Football Club, alongside the 19 other Premier League teams, have this week joined forces in the battle against racism, emphasising the zero-tolerance stance towards discriminatory behaviour.
This week, Choudhury – of Asian heritage – discussed his upbringing in Leicestershire, how his mother helped him to deal with being a victim of racism, and why reporting any abuse is vital in society’s fight against it.
“I originally grew up in Loughborough which is a heavily Asian-populated community,” Choudhury explained. “The school I went to had a lot of different races and people from all over the world, which was a nice upbringing really.
“When I was 12 or 13, I moved just down the road in Leicester which was a different community but very diverse as well. It educates you a lot because you meet different types of people from different walks of life and makes it easier to resonate with people and understand that not everyone's the same.
Hamza Choudhury says he was able to call upon the support of his City team-mates after being racially abused on social media.
“I feel like that was a very big part of my upbringing. It's okay to be who you are, and it's everyone's duty to accept it.”
The influence of his mother has aided Hamza’s ability to process racist abuse. It is something no parent should have to do, but the City midfielder is grateful for her support during times of difficulty.
When asked about being a victim of racism, he said: “[It’s happened] quite a few times in my upbringing. My mum prepared me the best she could but it hurts really and truly.
“No matter how much you can prepare yourself or how much you can look at it, it’s not a nice feeling. To be discriminated [against] for something that you have no choice in is probably the worst feeling.
“But my mum taught me that being different is good – loving yourself is so important. It can affect you – especially mentally – but my mum also taught me to talk about it.
“Don’t lock it away, no matter how strong a person you feel like you are. Everyone needs to talk, and everyone needs to get it off their chest.”
It is not just through his childhood that he experienced racism, but also in recent years, when he was able to call upon his Foxes team-mates after receiving abusive messages on social media.
Make time to talk to your friends and family members and try to understand and educate yourself on a personal note. Once you educate yourself you will want to make a change.Hamza Choudhury
He explained: “I screenshotted it and put it in our team group chat. Everyone was saying how disgusting it was and to obviously report it, which I did.
“[They said] they were sorry that there were people like this – ignorant people – that still think it's okay to hide behind fake accounts, or even real accounts. It made me feel instantly a lot better knowing that you’re not by yourself.”
Hamza believes that, now more than ever, there is a need to educate those who still feel that racist and discriminatory behaviour is acceptable.
“I feel like the deep lying issue is education,” he said. “If everyone understands or tries to learn then that's the thing. It's [often] easy to pretend it's not happening or say it doesn't affect you.
“Make time to talk to your friends and family members and try to understand and educate yourself on a personal note. Once you educate yourself you will want to make a change.
“You say racism and everyone [immediately] thinks white and black. A lot of the time you don't realise it can be Asians to black people or black people to Asians. Anyone can be racist, for sure.
Hamza Choudhury believes those who still discriminate against others must be educated about the impact of racial abuse.
“Being half-Asian, half-black, my mum prepared me in the best way possible. She taught me that it's ignorance and that uneducated people have these views and opinions, but that you should never take them too personally.”
Choudhury concluded the interview by insisting those who witness or endure racist behaviour must follow No Room For Racism’s advice of: ‘Challenge it. Report it. Change it’.
“Don’t stand for it in any way, shape or form,” he said. “Report the person and talk about it. It's easy to be in a situation and take the back seat and say that it doesn't affect you, but it definitely does.
“To be a bystander is almost as bad as committing the act yourself. So definitely speak out and not let it stand.”
For more information on the Premier League's No Room for Racism initiative visit www.premierleague.com/noroomforracism.
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