First the Russian fans shouting garbage at the black captain for Manchester City. (Once his team was winning, I gather. Bad losers, too.) Yes, Russians can be dreadful racists. That’s not the surprise. For me, the surprise is that even in this day and age the authorities, in this case the people who run the football club whose fans were so horrible, are fine with it. And they’re so tone deaf they say, out loud, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad. Oh, you’re exaggerating.” In other words, shut up and go away. (After a couple of days of pressure, they changed their tune.)
Racism backed by authorities, even authorities who think better of it after the damage is done, needs the strongest possible response. Boycott ’em. Close the stadium. Stop it now. Go Yaya Touré.
Then there’s the blonde Roma child found in a Greek gypsy camp among the more average darker inhabitants. The immediate reaction was that she must have been kidnapped. Then some DNA evidence showed that the mother is another impoverished Roma from Bulgaria. The talk of kidnapping stopped. The talk about trafficking started. The girl must have been sold.
Yes. Poor people sometimes do appalling things to survive. But poor people also sometimes commit acts of astronomical generosity, inconceivable to those more comfortably situated. One image branded on my mind from history books is starving peasants around the time of the Russian Revolution giving their swaddled infants to strangers on passing trains in the desperate hope the babies might then survive. I don’t know if they lived or not. I don’t know the statistics on how that worked out. But in the moments when it happened, on both sides, there had to be a stunning ability to give everything away.
If it had turned out that some equally blonde people from, say, Iceland were the parents, how quickly would the police assume they’d sold the child?
Never, I expect.
But since she has a Roma mother, well, it’s obvious isn’t it, there’s been a criminally sordid transaction. It’s the first conclusion they come to, not the last. Evidence not needed.
Whatever the evidence does finally show, it doesn’t change the willingness of the (white?) world to jump to racist conclusions without any.
The big difference between them and the Russian fans is that football hooligans yell crap out loud in a stadium.
And then, of course, close to home, the flap in the USA about the Washington Redskins. The name is insulting to American Indians. So change it. It’s a name, fergawdsake. Or, as a commenter pointed out, don’t change it but change the logo to a potato. What an idiotic thing to have to expend energy on. We could be putting all that money and effort and emotion toward mitigating the real damage of racism. Instead it’s going toward arguing over labels with a bunch of neanderthals running one of our autumnal concussion teams.
Then again, maybe that’s easier than dealing with racism.