The transnational insurrection against murderous policing has forced a global reckoning with anti-black racism and its many insidious manifestations. What concern is any of this to football lovers? Shouldn't we just "stick to football"? For football fans of conscience, the idea of staying detached and depoliticized is more ridiculous than ever. The uprising against white supremacism in all its forms is a political struggle and just like everyone else we football fans have to pick the right side and join that struggle.

Inspired by leadership from Troy Deeney and Wes Morgan, the English Premier League's players, managers and even pundits have shown solidarity, wearing "Black Lives Matter" on their shirts and kneeling in protest at kick off. Even such simple displays of decency are taken as an intolerable threat by those who insist white supremacy should never be challenged in any way, as we saw on Monday evening when a racist banner was flown by a plane above the Man City vs Burnley game. 

It's not good enough simply to say, as many have, that "they" don't represent football. Prominent far right factions continue to use football as a platform. The fascist march in defence of Winston Churchill in central London earlier this month was another reminder that whether we like it or not the sport we love has long been a home for the far right in this country. "He's one of our own" they chanted, a song taken straight from the stands. 

The game plays an important role in how the far right publicly identifies and organizes itself. From the Football Lads Alliance to the well-heeled racists who abused Raheem Sterling from expensive seats at Stamford Bridge, this is the culture that we share as fans and that we need to contest. The anti-racist character of football can't simply be passively assumed. Fans need to give substance to the easy PR solidarity favoured by our clubs and governing bodies. 

The media we consume is part of this culture, too, including liberal media that in theory stands against racial discrimination. Football media in the UK remains vastly disproportionately a platform for white male voices like mine. That's a problem, however well intentioned our favourite white football writers and editors might be. Black and other minoritized journalists, readers and supporters have been telling us this for years. I am not saying anything new here. If these concerns weren't acted upon before now, there needs to be an honest and unsparing appraisal of why that is.

I was a guest on a recent “racism special” episode to discuss Black Lives Matter and racism in football. Instead of the familiar, usually entirely white, cast of journalists who deal with regular footballing matters twice a week, the other guests for this episode were two distinguished and experienced black broadcasters, Troy Townsend of Kick It Out and Channel 4 News reporter Jordan Jarrett Bryan. They laid out in detail – and for what both observed was the umpteenth time -- the concrete steps football’s governing bodies and its wider community can take if they truly wish to tackle the problem. But Jordan stressed the underlying truth: "They don't care."

It matters who gets to have a voice, and who doesn't. Audio is the most trusted medium. Familiar voices become synonymous with authority and expertise. Podcasts are there to inform and entertain. I also use them to alleviate the dreariness of chores, commutes, or work. I'm sure lots of listeners are like that. They are an intimate medium and the sense of community and friendship and sheer familiarity they transmit is often as meaningful as the subject matter. Most bring their listeners comfort above all. It’s even common for people to fall asleep to a favourite podcast. 

Our two “racism specials" for Guardian Football Weekly have been a departure from the familiar white voices who have come together to discuss “actual football” in light-hearted ways on almost all the other episodes of the show produced over the past fourteen years. How was this ever normalized and acceptable, at the Guardian of all places? Were we there discussing racism and football to meet the urgency so many feel about this moment? Or did our show merely soothe the anxieties of listeners by providing topical content that meant they could empathize with the pain and exhaustion expressed by Troy and Jordan while being reassured that others had taken on the work of tackling racism, and then move on to the next episode?

Max Rushden asked a question that has stayed with me since we recorded. "I want to do the right thing. What can I do about all this?" 

Here are some concrete actions football fans can take. Donate to radical black organisations, to bail funds and mutual aid funds, to crowd-funders. Financially supporting victims of racist violence and those who resist at great personal cost is something anyone can do and it has obvious material benefits. Sign petitions. Write to elected representatives at all levels. Join the protests. Put a sign in your window: Black Lives Matter. None of these small actions will "fix" racism. All of them will help to normalize and legitimize and build the power of the collective refusal to accept the existing conditions by which it has become routine for black people to be discriminated against. Work to help elect candidates and parties that stand on concrete action against anti-blackness. Make it central to how you think about politics, not an added extra. Work to weaken the power of institutions that perpetuate the oppression and marginalization of black people. Demand inclusion everywhere -- even from your favourite podcasts.

Take direction from experienced activists and organizers, especially black people with many more years of practical and strategic experience than you of this fight. It's their struggle first and foremost, so respect that. Start where you are, with the communities and institutions you are part of. I can assure fellow white guys who spend lots of time thinking about football that it is far better to be a minor and marginal part of what is a long, uphill struggle against powerful and deeply rooted forces than it is to remain a detached observer, thinking these matters don't concern me, or agonizing over the complexities of getting involved in any meaningful way.

We talked about the importance of learning, talking to family and friends, and listening to black people when they describe their lived experiences of racism, whether in a football stadium, a workplace, a classroom, or the street. We agreed that white people mustn’t flinch from the discomfort we commonly experience when talking about and challenging racism wherever it might be encountered.

We put together a short list of reading recommendations in the show notes -- perhaps the first appearance by Angela Davis in the overwhelmingly white male space of UK football media.

All the responses to Max’s question were reasonable and constructive. But this can’t just be a personal matter. We can’t afford for these kinds of discussions to be merely another listening exercise, yet another “conversation about race”. Discussions of this kind are happening in all kinds of places just now. There is a recognition that state racism on the level of police killings, Windrush or Grenfell cannot be separated off from lower-level manifestations of anti-blackness through institutions, practices and habits by which the devaluation of black people continues to be normalized. That includes football and its culture, the culture we make together.

“Action,” urged Troy right at the end of the episode. “Action.”