Bristol Bears’ Rownita Marston speaks out about being racially abused on rugby pitch
In aid of Black History Month, Bristol Bears’ Rownita Marston has spoken out about her experience of being racially abused on the rugby field.
Marston, who confirmed she has not been subject to racial discrimination on the pitch before or since the incident in question, described the shock she felt after it happened.
Speaking on the Bears’ website, she said: "I have been fortunate to have only experience one act of overt racism. Unfortunately, this happened in one of the most inclusive places of all: on a rugby pitch.
"I was singled out in a team argument (where I was defusing the situation), and was then met with false accusations and racist comments.
"This shocked me as I had never experienced anything like this before, and I did not know how to react or what to do. The only positive in this situation was that I wasn’t alone; my team mates stood up for me and were just as shocked as I was."
Marston also spoke about how the Black Lives Matter movement has made her recognise more day-to-day racism in society.
"Before, I thought this was just a normal experience to have, probably because it has happened for the majority of my life," she added.
"For example, I am often scrutinised more heavily by security guards when I go to the shops with my white friends, and people automatically assume that I am going to be sassy and rude when they first meet me, but then act surprised to find that I completely the opposite. These are just a few things that I continue to experience daily, as do most black people."
And while her only encounter with racism has been in rugby, she still insists the sport is inclusive.
"Everyone accepts you for you regardless of your colour, religion, sexuality, shape, or size," she said. "You are always accepted with open arms. Despite my previous experience on the pitch, this hasn’t stopped my love for the game.
"If anything it has made me love it more, because that experience showed me that when something nasty like that happens, your teammates will always have your back and fight for injustice and racism with you.
"These girls are like my family, and they are the kind of people you need on your side to continue fighting for what is right, both on and off the pitch."