As part of evertonfc.com's coverage of the UK's Black History Month, Dominic Calvert-Lewin writes candidly about his hope for a society free from discrimination and racism.
The Everton and England striker discusses the importance of role models from diverse backgrounds, the challenges of eradicating racism and the frustration over repeated incidents that is countered by reasons for optimism in the ongoing movement for equality.
Sunday's match against West Ham United is also the Premier League's designated No Room For Racism fixture, which Everton fully supports along with the Club's All Together Now campaign to celebrate diversity.
I am very proud of my mixed-race heritage and have felt that way all my life.
My mum is white and my dad is black and I was brought up to understand I could achieve anything I set my mind to, regardless of my skin colour.
Seeing is a big part of believing and the existence of role models of different colours and creeds is so important.
I had a canvas of Muhammad Ali on my bedroom wall when I was about 10. I didn’t know much about him other than he was a successful, black sportsman and someone I could look up to.
It is a privilege to be in a position now where I am a role model for kids who look like me – and those who don’t.
It would be naïve and a shame not to accept that responsibility. I try to conduct myself in the right way and stay true to myself in the way I live my life.
Hopefully, what I am doing on and off the football pitch can help give others the confidence to go and fulfil their dreams.
I was fortunate to have a good grounding from my family and was always comfortable in my own skin.
There wasn’t much diversity where I grew up in Sheffield but it wasn’t a racist environment in any way.
I was quite young when I realised I didn’t look like everyone else but I was always the one who was decent at football, so that helped me feel comfortable and accepted.
I’ve spoken previously about the one racist episode I experienced growing up. It happened at primary school but the person didn’t really know what he was saying.
I didn’t completely understand the nature of the remark but I reacted angrily because I’d been called a name and was confused.
I went home and told my mum and we had a conversation about being comfortable with who you are, which is something I have carried with me to this day.
It is such a fresh memory because I am not a naturally aggressive person. It was a big incident at the time but me and the lad went on to become good friends.
The reason I mention it again is I don’t know what I would do in similar circumstances today.
You can’t afford to react in an aggressive manner, or your actions become the story.
But if I thought challenging the behaviour was for the greater good, then I would do it.
I am quite calm and collected and can always rationalise situations.
I’d like to think I would handle an incident in a way that reflects my character – but, hopefully, I never find out.
I am very keen not to write only about the negative strands of these complex issues of race and diversity and equality.
To be honest, it is hard, sometimes, when you are asked about such emotive subjects purely because of your position as a footballer.
There is a conflict between wanting to contribute to positive change and the concern over your words being misinterpreted, or not expressing yourself exactly how you intend.
But if me talking continues the conversation and might help in any way, however small, then I will do it.
It is my fervent hope that through a more inclusive and diverse world, racism will naturally filter out of society. That kids growing up now won’t have to deal with hate and discrimination, because today’s generation of parents know better and teach their children right from wrong.
This isn’t me being naïve and wanting to wish the problem away.
Truthfully, I get very frustrated with the lack of progress, at times. In the down moments, it can feel as if there is a lot of talking and gestures but no real change.
But the world is full of good people and it is important to acknowledge and remember it is a small minority who go against the grain.
I wasn’t in any way surprised, though, when three of my England teammates were racially abused on social media after not scoring their penalties in the European Championship final this year.
It is those sorts of things happening over and over that sometimes makes you feel you are banging your head against a brick wall with it all.
You take the knee all season and have a social media blackout and it all raises awareness – then three English players are targeted for racial abuse for missing penalties.
They didn’t miss because of the colour of their skin. It happens, it's football.
It requires massive amounts of courage to take a penalty in that situation.
The people responsible for the messages, on the other hand, are cowards, hiding behind anonymous accounts.
They can type what they want, then go about their days and not see the lasting effects of their actions on someone. There must be accountability for the individuals perpetrating this hate.
But this is where I come back to the reasons for encouragement.
Bukayo Saka received so many kind messages and had great receptions at various stadiums. There was a mural created for Marcus Rashford.
There are so many good people fighting for the right cause.
It is the few who hold these ingrained discriminatory beliefs, who think racism is okay. Their thoughts and beliefs are formed at young ages and become part of who they are.
It is hard to foresee any gestures changing those people, racism is too deep rooted in them.
People can change but it is very hard to change people who don’t want to change.
That’s not to say we should stop taking the knee. It continues to generate awareness and important conversations and I have felt uplifted by Evertonians’ wonderful response to us kneeling before every game this season.
What I would like to happen is for more black history to be taught and celebrated in schools.
Why is it some people are acclaimed for making significant contributions in how the world evolved but others’ achievements are not recognised?
My education on black history was limited to one term learning about slavery. It was insightful and valuable. But where were the lessons on the pioneering black men and women whose work and innovation make our lives easier every day?
The West Indian former cricketer Michael Holding used the example of us all being taught about Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb.
Michael pointed out – and I only learned this very recently – that it was Lewis Howard Latimer, an African American inventor, who patented the carbon filament that dramatically increased the lifespan and effectiveness of lightbulbs.
Thankfully, we are beginning to see more people of colour in prominent positions and role models in sport from various backgrounds.
I am very fortunate to count my dad as my hero. I recorded an interview with Sky Sports, which will air before this weekend's game, focusing solely on dad’s enormous influence on my life.
He is a proud man and I have always followed suit and been proud of who I am.
To the boys and girls reading this, you can be anything you want in the world, if you put your mind to it and do what is required to achieve it, regardless of how you look, or the colour of your skin.
Look at the number of successful black people today.
I have always been a believer, that if he or she can do it, then I can do it, too.
Never stop striving to be the best possible version of yourself and you can achieve everything you want.
The task for every one of us now is to bring forward the day when these things go without saying.