Football has always had the ability to bring out the best and worst aspects of culture in this country. At its best, it’s a unifying force, a cause we can all get behind, a source of celebration and jubilation. As we witnessed first hand at the Euros last summer, however, the mood can quickly turn ugly – joy and camaraderie souring into racism and jingoistic abuse.
An antidote to the ever-present trauma of racism in the football community is a new exhibition that opens this weekend. Presented by Season zine with support from Nike, Football’s Black Gaze is a multimedia show that spotlights Black joy in football through the lens of 10 creatives and collectives.
“It’s so cathartic to celebrate Black joy in football,” says Felicia Pennant, founder and editor-in-chief of Season, “the triumphs, unapologetic innovation, and nuanced realities of the black community across football operating in a white male-dominated space.” Building on the work done in the zine’s last issue, the exhibition takes the conversation from the page to IRL, with Pennant inviting Season’s network of creatives to submit original work reflecting on the nuances of Black joy.
“There’s a quote that Bolu Babalola gave in thisDazed piece that really resonated with me,” says Pennant. “‘Black joy is audacity, it is hope, it is swagger in your skin, bold with our beauty, loud with our voice, it’s our movement when we’re together, a rhythm amplified when we stand together.’”