Aberdeen’s Funso Ojo believes the Black Lives Matter movement will bring permanent change to a world where racism is “everywhere”.
And the midfielder is willing to accept a fine by taking a knee in support of the battle when football restarts.
Ojo today revealed he was subjected to sickening “monkey chants” while playing for PSV Eindhoven in Holland.
The 28-year-old took a stand by hanging signs calling for change in the Granite City recently.
There have been widespread protests across the world for Black Lives Matter following the tragedy of George Floyd, who died at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Ojo is frustrated to see some people saying “all lives matter” when commenting on Black Lives Matter.
He said: “Is something going to change? I think yes.
“It is a different protest now.
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t support the looting and vandalism. But I do support the peaceful protests.
“There have been peaceful protests in the NFL. People went on their knee for the national anthem, but that didn’t help as they even got sanctions.
“There was the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery on February 23 in Georgia and that felt closer to home because he was just jogging in the neighbourhood and was shot dead.
“At that time people were not in lockdown, so it didn’t get the same focus.
“There wasn’t the same backing from celebrities, so it didn’t spark a movement like has been sparked now.
“People have been in lockdown for months now, they are frustrated and their normal lives stop.
“Everyone is on the internet and social media and see all the news – that has sparked a movement.
“I just hope that once the lockdown is over and we all get back to our normal lives, there is an awareness on all levels, there is social injustice.”
Ojo added: “I really want to get it out that it is everywhere.
“People say it is not as bad as in the United States.
“But to say ‘not as bad’ is already admitting there is a problem.
“It doesn’t need to be as bad as the United States to make a change.
“If you see that there is a problem why not try to fix it? Why not start now?
“Sometimes it is frustrating to see people comment on the Black Lives Matter movement by saying ‘all lives matter’.
“I think it has been said many times that we are not saying that all lives don’t matter.
“But for all lives to matter, black lives have to matter as well.”
The entire squads at Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle recently “took a knee” – a form of protest made popular by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
England international and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho revealed a protest message on his shirt which read “Justice for George Floyd” during a recent match.
Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram also protested by dropping to his knee after scoring against Union Berlin.
Ojo is willing to take a knee for the cause when football resumes and will also accept a fine.
He said: “I think there is a rule about not being allowed to show any political statements.
“But this is something that if they want to fine people for it, we’ll all be happy to pay it.”
Ojo speaks from experience when saying racism is integrated in culture.
Not only was he subjected to abuse while playing in Holland, he also witnessed racism while a youngster in his home nation of Belgium.
He said: “I can speak about Belgium because I don’t know the way it is here properly, but hidden racism is so integrated in the culture.
“The way people speak about black people or people from other origins or religions, it’s just so integrated that it’s normal.
“I have seen it because I was raised by a white family and always went to the pub with my uncle.
“Everyone was always OK to me, but there would be people from Africa come in to the pubs to sell things.
“And you then heard how they spoke about them, the things they said.
“That always hurt and it shows how it’s so integrated and normal.
“That’s what we need to get rid of.”
The Black Lives Matter movement and protests have led to a reassessment of historical figures represented by statues.
Many connected to the slave trade have been removed including Robert Milligan from London Docklands and slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.
Ojo said: “King Leopold’s statue in Belgium has been taken down because people have finally admitted he killed 10 million Africans in the Congo.
“In London, Bristol and Oxford statues have been taken down, and that is an important step towards change.
“I don’t feel that we need to erase history by taking them down and forgetting about them because it happened.
“And we need to still be aware of what has happened in African countries.
“But I don’t think we need to idolise those people.”
For Ojo, education is fundamental to bringing permanent change.
He said: “Education and awareness are the key.
“I wish I was more educated about racism and injustice when I was younger.
“I just hope that the movement continues.”