Footballer John Terry was sensationally cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence last week. A sign that the UK judicial system – and to some degree, British culture – hasn’t quite grasped the impact of racism and what it needs to do to banish it from it’s society.
John Terry’s defence was based purely on the principle that he was ‘repeating’ what he ‘thought’ he’d heard Anton Ferdinand ‘accuse’ him of saying. That sentence is so flawed I gasp every time I see it.
The biggest shock & disappointment of the defence strategy was the repeated insertion that John Terry is ‘a good man’ and ‘a man of integrity’, backed up by the testimony of Black footballer Ashley Cole, who stated that the case shouldn’t have been brought to court.
Please give me a moment – I promised I wouldn’t allow my John Terry-Tourette’s to re-surface. I need a second.
Sorry I’m back…where was I? Oh yes, footballer Ashley Cole – a Black man – also asserted that the case should never have been brought to court. Now you tell me!!! To back up his case, Ex-manager Jose Mourinho and 19 Chelsea stars gave statements saying they did not believe Terry is a racist. Thank goodness that Footballer-turned-pundit Garth Crooks was one of the few in and around the profession who spoke out against John Terry’s behaviour before and after the trial, stating “”What football fails to realise is that there is an entire generation of black players who feel the game has failed them.”
Apparently in the UK it’s ok for you, in a minute of anger, to call someone a “fucking black cunt” if you’re a nice guy. That’s the precedent now set, right?
Can we discuss?
Far too often I am reminded through personal experiences as a black man, also seeing celebrity melt-downs such as Mel Gibson, or John Galliano, where tirades of racial abuse have been followed by mitigation of ‘anger’ or ‘being under the influence of alcohol.’ it’s about time society starts acknowledging that an act of racism is just that – no exceptions. Of course there are differing ways that one can determine sentencing of the act, however the act should stand for what it is i.e. it was a racist comment; the perpetrator should take accountability that they said it hastily, apologise and move on. Never should Black people be patronised by employers or a judiciary system where we are constantly told how to receive the act, i.e. to let it pass as it was merely a ‘bit of banter’ or the old downgrade to being a ‘personality clash’ .
If it was said, it was a racist act – doesn’t matter how you sugar coat it.
You will never say that it was OK to steal because a thief was hungry & saw little other choice. You’d say: it was wrong, however owing to the circumstances and his testimony, I feel it should be dealt with like x…’ So why does it seem to be acceptable for people to make themselves and everyone else feel comfortable by doing it different for race. British NBA basketball player John Amerchi said, “The Football Association must take “swift and decisive action” against John Terry“.
Let’s not just stop at anger – the same goes for the alcohol demon. Precisely why I don’t stay in environments where people start to get ‘messy’ (drunk). We Caribbean folk have a saying, ‘Tom Drunk – Tom nah fool’. It means that once drunk, Tom says all the things he really feels without inhibition and sniggers that he is able to blame it on the drink the next day and get away with it. That saying is very apt in the John Terry case & many other similar social & work environments, also in the annoying celebrity incidents that make me squirm with frustration and despair.
It’s time that people stood up and took responsibility for their behaviour. When sober and in a calm state, a lot of people in western, modern day cultures contain the majority of people who are embarrassed by racism. That embarrassment of not wanting to appear as the harsher form of racist also prevents individuals from fully addressing their prejudices, because they feel too ashamed to discuss them in public. However the down side of doing that is when you get drunk, you show up your real self. Well how abut this:
Anger and/or alcohol uncovers the thoughts & feelings that you were previously suppressing – it releases your inhibitions and subsequently, your previously self-controlled, internalised behaviours.
Yes folks, a moment of anger or a lashing of alcohol cannot suddenly implant a series of thoughts and beliefs into your brain that never existed previously. So if you’re someone who has used or still uses the anger/alcohol excuse, stop it!!!
If we are to move forward & really address racism, we have to start with being honest about what we think and feel, address our prejudices, learn and move forward. You loose all credibility if you excuse your behaviour by anger or alcohol – it just isn’t good enough and it’s about time global cultural practices and laws demonstrated it with more serious recompense.