Dragons wing Ashton Hewitt believes education is the key to tackling inequality after weeks of taking a stand against racism in society.
Hewitt, who has made 56 appearances for the Dragons, has won praise for making a positive impact on discussions of issues that have come to the fore after the death of George Floyd in America.
“It’s been something that I’ve always been aware of and have always experienced,” Hewitt said when discussing racism on the Under The Sticks podcast. “After the horrific incident with George Floyd I think it surfaced a lot of issues.”
Hewitt’s fellow Welsh sportsman, sprinter and Olympic hopeful Sam Gordon produced a video speaking out against racism, which provoked a range of reactions and a twitter comment that said Gordon “doesn’t look Welsh”.
Hewitt continued: “After that he (Gordon) got attacked by a lot of trolls which I then got involved in trying to defend him.
“I was then met with quite heavy abuse, so I just got involved in that way and ever since then it’s taken off and has obviously been at the forefront of discussion all over the news.
“There’s lots of different forms (of racism), I spoke about it on various platforms. Whether it be banter or harassment by the police, and I’ve had direct aggressive racism towards me.
“But when I was a lot younger I used to deal with it by getting angry and fighting quite a lot.”
The 25-year-old, who was born and brought up in Newport and is the son of a Welsh mum and British Jamaican father, has continued to be a positive influence on discussion of the issues, condemning police brutality and racism on TV and radio, and called for society to do more in terms of education.
“I do think it’s about education,” he said. ”It’s about people locally pushing as well. Whether it be the government or the local MP to really push home education, I believe that’s where it starts.
“I’ve experienced racism from when I was a young boy and it starts there. It’s so much harder to change the mind of a grown man who is set in his ways, with no experience or exposure in a diverse environment.”
Hewitt’s stance has also won praise from Dean Ryan with the Director of Dragons Rugby keen for the words of his player to create change.
“It takes a huge amount for a young man to take a stance sometimes,” said Ryan, speaking at the Evening With Dragons event.
“I don’t understand social media, but I do understand you put yourself out there for people to comment back.
“The Dragons are incredibly proud of Ashton and I touched base with him about it. I told him I don’t understand the pressure he is under, but I wanted to reach out and ask if he needed help.
“We’ve asked Ashton if there is anything we can do. The most powerful thing we can do, as Dragons, is ask if we are getting it right, what can we do or support more.
“I’m proud to see Ashton involved,” he added. “When you make a stand it can feel pretty lonely at times, but I’m proud of what he has done and I know everyone at the region feels the same.”
When you make a stand it can feel pretty lonely at times, but I’m proud of what he has done and I know everyone at the region feels the same...