What is the solution to racism?

0 Posted by - November 5, 2013 - Racism, Uncategorized, what is the solution to racism
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I did a piece in the guardian today,which received much interest from many people!

A lot on twitter,once again accused me of playing the race card in football,because I mentioned the lack of black managers ( in passing ) as a wider problem in society.

Let me say once and for all ( probably not ) that until we tackle the issue of racism in mainstream society,we cannot get rid of it in any other part of society of which football is but one of many!

I will mention football management once in this article,then move on to the real problem.

I am a failed football manager,and there are lots of different reasons why myself and other failed black managers do so. ( which is for a different time ) but to satisfy those who say you were not good enough,like other black managers,lets work on the premise that they are right!

We may not be good enough,which if true,has nothing to do with the colour of our skin,so why then pose the question….can black ex players make good managers,and why should prospective future black managers be doubted because the ones before have failed, as if we are all the same!

Secondly, how many white managers have not been good enough,but been given longer to fail?

Why are the rubbish white managers given longer, than the rubbish black managers?

I know if I,or other black managers were successful,we would still be employed,so I am not,or ever have accused football fans of being overtly racist. What I have said is that they are ( as am I ) unconsciously racist….based on what life has shown us ( me included ) about the moral,and intellectual capabilities of different groups of people.

So while they fully support their managers at the outset,when things go wrong,subconciously they question the capabilities of that person,based on the perception they have of him based on what society has told them about people like him for the last 300 years,and continues to tell them in the media!

The reality,is that white managers of similar inadequacies to black managers,are given longer to try to put it right!

Why does this happen???

It is not personal!!

In many respects,it has nothing to do with colour….it has to do with the perception,and misconception mainstream society has about a particular group of people.

If I was a white American coaching a premier league team,I would be sacked before a white English coach,who is sacked before a white European Spanish coach,because of the perception of me as an “American” in the premier league,and my football intellect.

If you speak to Lorraine rogers,or Karen Brady about their experiences in a male dominated industry,they,I’m sure will tell you that they have been discriminated against because they are women.

When I say it’s not personal,to take their experiences as an example,I mean its not personal against women per say,it’s against a group of people,who society has said are not capable to do that particular job…….who happen to be women ( society for hundreds of years have questioned women’s capabilities in many industries )….while you may say things have changed,you cannot redress hundreds of years of a particular perception in 10 to 20 years.

So as a black person,it isn’t necessarily personal towards me,it is the perception that society has towards the intellectual ( necessary management and leadership qualities ) capabilities of the group I belong to as a whole.

Even individual racism doesn’t necessarily exist. The fictional football racist,who can’t spell his own name,has no job,ugly,fat,smelly, who racially abuses the rich,handsome,intelligent Thierry Henry,may feel superior to Thierry…..however that is a inherent,and subconcious feeling, because if he were to rationally think about it,even he would have to admit he isn’t superior to him.

What he is actually saying,is,it doesn’t matter about our individual reality Thierry,I belong to a superior group ( white ) than you (black) which makes me superior to you.

Racism is understandably,because of the western history we have been taught,which gloryfies one particular groups achievements over “all” others!

So while,once again,we may say….” Yeah,but that was years ago”… It was only a few years ago that racial abuse,bananas being thrown on the pitch and overt racism was accepted,so why should hundreds of years of thought and policy,be overturned in a few years? Because we now say “it was wrong” and “we are all the same”.

unless we explain why it is wrong,and why we are all the same…passing laws and charging people with racism isn’t going to stop people being unconsciously racist.

If we look at diseases,we know to cure a disease,we have to know and tackle the “cause” of the disease,not the “symptom”,or else,the disease will return,and never be cured!

But what we do in our fight against racism,is to tackle the “symptom” (Suarez,terry,Danny rose in Ukraine,cska Moscow,boateng in Italy,and countless other incidents)….which means they will continue to return….rather than tackling the ” cause ” of racism,of which there are so many reasons from the past,and continues to be which stare us in the face!

Racism affects us all in the same way in many respects,and I always try to stress that I am not pointing accusing fingers at any particular individual,because the environment we have been brought up in has shaped our mode of thought about other people,and equally as important about where we see ourselves in the racial hierarchy of this world.

To give you an example…and some people throw this at me all the time…black on black crime,black on white racism,black African football administrators giving coaching jobs to white European coaches!

Why does this happen?

For the exact same reasons white society bases its judgement of the capabilities of “some” blacks…..that is what they have learnt/been told about themselves for the last 300 years !!!

Once again it isn’t personal,or individual because while the black football administrators in Africa,are fully empowered personally,and are,and feel as adequate as their white European contemporaries,they don’t feel the same way about people who “look” like them (other “inferior” blacks ) because of what they have been told about themselves!

These are the people,who either have elevated themselves,or been elevated out of blackness!

Obama,bey once,denzel,rio,and other superstar footballers,have been elevated out of blackness…by that I mean,when many older managers talk about me,a lot of them say,they don’t see me as being black….they mean it as a compliment ( unconcious racism )!

What is their perception of what black is,that I am not? ( jeans down my arse,and smoking a spiff )

When pressed….they may say they see me as just being normal ( is black not normal )…

If they say they see me as just like them,that is when I have been fully elevated out of blackness!!

Me being just like them,means that they see me on the same level as them,however,do they see the “average” black man walking down the street as being ….”just like them” probably not.

And even if they do….there is a huge difference between seeing somebody ” just like you”,to seeing yourself ” just like them”!

It’s easy to see Obama,bey once,denzel,” just like you”,or yourself “just like them”…..but do you see an “average” black person ” just like you” or even less likely,yourself ” just like them”?

So when people say those above mentioned people ” transcend” blackness,they are wrong!

I interpret “transcend” as crossing over from one equal part,to another….that is not the case….they have been ” elevated ” out of blackness!

A lot of people will say, “i am not racist because”….then list a host of reasons ( best friend,married to,music,food,live next door to etc) and that gives me hope….

But not for the reasons you may think!

Even if the above is true about you,it is because of the “essence” of humanity,that we deep down,unconsciously know about the equality of human beings that when we interact with others,we see that they are “just like us”, in many respects to our surprise, and end up marrying,living next to,befriending different groups….and convince ourselves that we see each other as equal,but what we have done is to elevate our partner,friend out of what the perception (understandably) we have of what black is!

Until we see “all” black people in the same way as we see our black partners,friends,this (understandable) unconscious racism will continue.

There are degrees of racism,and we convince ourselves we have no tendencies,because we would never do or say what John terry said,or Suarez,or cska Moscow….but the majority are ( me included )are somewhere in between that…..and mother Theresa…but we have to acknowledge and accept it.

We have to internalize our perspective and perceptions of others,because in debates and discussions,we will become defensive and afraid of being labelled racist, so will not admit how we truly feel,and absolve ourselves of any discrimination by pointing the finger at Suarez,terry,cska Moscow etc


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  • Ralf van der Sluis November 5, 2013 - 5:27 pm

    Absolutely SPOT ON John Barnes!!! Fantastic article in the Guardian today. I have heard your statements during the days of the Suarez/Evra and Terry/Ferdinand spat on Five Live. Among all the crocodile tears hysteria you were the only person who got it right at the time, and you are the only person who gets it right now with the CSKA fans flap. A true breath of fresh air amidst all the predictable knee jerk responses.
    You make some very valid points including racism affecting even black football administrators hiring a white coach or manager. Very interesting. Still, that could be down to experience, if there are no experienced black managers to draw from the chance of a non-black manager getting the job is then much higher still. After all, the black football administrator wants to get the best results otherwise he, or rarely she, might be on the way out as well.
    Still, it is a different world now from the Netherlands in the1950s when my mixed race, and fairly light skinned, mediterranean looking mother would have a throng of children following her around going “n****r, n****r.” I guess she too has been incorporated into “whiteness,” as have irish, Jews, Italians and Spanish, who not so long ago were also considered non-whites. If you play music by black artists, if you cheer on black athletes turning out for your team, and watch black movie stars save the earth in the movie theatre things are changing. Slowly perhaps, and a mixed race couple still may attract glances and stares, from either race, but still, if you think of it, the changes have really been quite remarkable. It will not be that long that the colour of somone’s skin is just as immaterial as the colour of someone’s hair. After all, “race” really is such a silly concept. Why do people categorize along skin colour? As you mentioned, a PL footballer has much more in common with another PL footballer, than with a short, fat, unathletic person of his own “race.”
    Especially among young people it seems to be less and less of an issue. I live in the US and the school my children attend are a big melting pot with a lot of different ethnicities. The kids seem utterly unfazed by it all.
    I personally think that economics are the new dividing line. The utter disdain with which poor white people are being dealt with in the US, and which I have seen, to a less virulent degree in England when I lived there, is very reminiscent of the blatant colour based racism of old. The “white trash,” “cockney,” “scouser,” etc, epithets can be used with the same venom as the racial epithets that now get blanked out. With the same immediate sense of superiority from the user of those terms. The wrong accent can preclude you from certain types of employment as readily as the wrong skin colour.
    The death penalty in the US is often used to illustrate the institutionalised racism in US society. However, a recent publication from Florida showed that when corrected for income, the death penalty convictions reflected the population makeup of Florida to a T.
    Anyway, thanks for a very valuable contribution to the debate.

  • What Is the Solution to Racism? | InfoCnxn.com November 5, 2013 - 10:57 pm

    […] blog originally appeared on John’s personal blog, and can be read here […]

  • Ross Fitzsimons November 10, 2013 - 7:32 am

    I saw you on the District Line yesterday evening, John, on my way home from Stamford Bridge. Didn’t want to bother you, but was impressed by how you spoke to some of my fellow passengers. I’d have said two things to you though – one, you are one of the best players we’ve ever been lucky enough to see play in England, and two, you are one of the most thoughtful people who’s ever been involved in the game.
    I don’t understand why you are not on this FA panel which will investigate the development of young players. You deserve to be, and I can only hope that you wil be one of the first people they seek evidence from.
    Thank you for this well-constructed piece. It articulates ideas and explains experiences and emotions I’ve been through myself. Keep on keeping on – your voice is a valuable one.

  • awesome things! January 8, 2014 - 3:55 pm

    pcAZMP I cannot thank you enough for the article. Want more.

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