December Issue: Racism – Not A Black & White Issue

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Hello all!

2012 is coming to an end! It’s flown by for all of us at 90 Minutes, as we kind of live our lives month-to-month. Issue-to-issue, rather. Hopefully all of you who were reading at the beginning of the year are still with us, and will remain next year as well.

We’ve got some cracking articles for you once again, some which address very important issues indeed. The cover story focuses on racism in football, but instead of getting into arguments over whether the bans handed out are adequate and whether the men found guilty have any defence and what not, we’ve tried to look at the bigger picture.

We focus on whether racist abuse means that a person is a ‘racist’, or is guilty of racist discrimination at any point in his life. Racism, in its truest form, refers to any kind of discrimination faced by a section of society or a community simply because of their skin colour or ethnicity. If Luis Suarez uttered a word to Patrice Evra, is he a racist? Will he not like being around Glen Johnson? Will he treat him differently than his other teammates at Liverpool? Similarly, John Terry, who has played a majority of his career with several African and other black footballers, would probably feel harshly done by if branded a racist by his peers from now on.

But before passing judgment on others, I think all of us need to look ourselves. If we see a black man, do we not notice that he’s black? Is that not one of the characteristics we immediately recognize and remember about that individual? That is simply natural. If you had to describe an oriental man to someone who couldn’t remember him, would you not mention that he’s oriental? It’s just human nature to notice and differentiate using skin colour, height, weight, and other physical attributes.

What’s important is that we don’t treat them any differently, or deny them what they merit. Will we ask our near and dear ones to not befriend members of another community? Will we avoid spending time with and judge people of other ethnicities simply because of that difference? That is when we cross that dreaded line. It’s very easy for us to criticize footballers and other celebrities, but we probably need to delve into our conscience to understand everyone better. We all have skeletons in our closet.

All of this is not to defend or justify the actions of Terry or Suarez. What they said wasn’t pleasant and was indeed wrong, but if someone called me an “Indian bas****�? or a “short bas****�? (yes I’m not the tallest), I wouldn’t feel the difference. I would take both those instances as someone calling me a “bas****�?. Maybe I feel differently about this, but then that is my personal feeling.

Abuse is abuse. Whether with racist or any other connotation, no form of abuse is acceptable, and there’s too much of it in football. Passion is necessary, banter is enjoyable, but perhaps some of the vitriol mouthed by fans at players, players at players, and players at referees is over the top, and needs to be addressed.

Nigel Empson has written, in my view, a very important article on the entire saga, which will hopefully connect with all of you somewhere. There’s a lot more in there as usual, so have a good read, and a cracking end to 2012.

See you next year!

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