Tuesday 11 December 2018

Observing the subtle racism at black success

Racism touches us all
Racism is a general story and a personal story, the tales I have to regale are many in my almost 30 years of continuous living in Europe. Whether it be in the UK where from when I was beginning to become reacquainted with the land of my birth or on mainland Europe where somewhere between being patronised and being belittled was a covert disrespectfulness you just ignored, you grew a thicker skin.
Racism became a topical issue from the weekend and in football, when the England international and Manchester City footballer, Raheem Sterling, was racially abused at Chelsea Football Club.
Raheem Sterling took to Instagram to give context to how and why racism appears to thrive against young black footballers through the way they are depicted in the mainstream media.

Commissions of omissions
He gave the example of how the reportage on two young black football playing colleagues had bought new houses for their mothers, “mothers who have put in a lot of time and love into helping them get where they are,” he said. The press had found a slant to paint these grateful boys in a bad light.
Not long after I had read that post, the BBC was reporting on Raheem Sterling’s Instagram post, quoting the post but incompletely and out of context. The BBC reported the boys had bought houses and left out the positive and mollifying message which was the boys had bought the new houses for their mothers.
That subtle omission of context painted the boys as excessively profligate rather than as endearingly grateful. That was enough to give a platform to forming negative opinions about people who had done some good, but in the reportage were made to look bad.
Jealousy needs no inspiration
It then no surprise that a black footballer as reported by BBC Sport who cannot exculpate themselves from being part of the problem, pulled out of appearing on TalkSport after their coverage of the Raheem Sterling story, for apparently, “former Reading striker Dave Kitson told the station that Sterling had incited ‘jealousy’ by exhibiting a luxury lifestyle on his social media.” [BBC]
Like seriously, a successful young man who happens to be black is exhibiting a luxury lifestyle on his social media? Nothing could be further from the truth, especially with Raheem Sterling.
In my own life, people would be jealous regardless of whether you’re frugal or profligate, the simple fact that you’re successful is enough to accentuate negative feelings, they need no inspiration to be rotten to you, given the opportunity of proximity in the hope to rile you.
We thrive, nonetheless
We have found accommodations or a state of mind, we have no reason to take offence, we ignore them, it is their problem and their headache. At other times, there is a gift of a quick wit, a riposte that sends them back into the crevasses from whence they emerge to glow in our light. Sometimes, it is others who observe the reprehensible and take action at no one’s behest apart from their good-natured disposition and humanity.
We are grateful for good fortune and success in our various fields and long may we have great stories to tell.
However, I leave the last word to one Jonathan Northcroft, the football correspondent for the Sunday Times, “Raheem Sterling represents the type of young black footballer that middle-aged white men of a certain type can’t deal with.”

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