30 October 2012

Blackness

Recently, some rich "black" English footballers have been contemplating setting up their own "black" players' union to fight more effectively against the evil monster known as Racism. What I am about to say may be construed by the ultra-politically correct as insidious racism but to me my questions seem valid and worth posing. What exactly do we mean by "black"?  And how "black" would a player have to be to be accepted into such a union?

The man below is a goat farmer from Mali in Africa. He can trace his family back through several generations and it is extremely unlikely that he carries any DNA from Caucasian or Asian ancestors. He is genuinely "black":-
Here is Michael Manley, the fourth prime minister of Jamaica who died in 1997. He is often described as a white man and yet his ancestry certainly included black Afro-Caribbean slaves. If he had been a footballer would he have qualified to join a union of black players?
This is Sheffield's Kyle Walker who now plays for Tottenham and England. His mother is a white health worker in our city and his father claims a mainly black Caribbean heritage. Would Kyle be admitted to the black players' union?
The gorgeous Halle Berry is also of "mixed race". Her mother was a white English nurse from Derbyshire. If she played for Tottenham Hotspur would she be accepted into the black players' union? Would she even be accepted into the shower after hard fought matches?
And here's the admirable Barack Obama - supposedly America's first "black" president. And yet how "black" is he? His mother - Ann Dunham from Kansas - was essentially of white English stock. So is he after all really a "black" president? Couldn't he just as legitimately be called another white president? And to what extent is President Obama more "black" than Abraham Lincoln was?
It's all very puzzling. Any advice on this matter would be gratefully received - even from caped and ardent members of the Racist Inquisition. And finally, what about albino Africans? Are they black?

8 comments:

  1. I think this is what's known as 'a tricky topic' for comment because no matter what one says, it's bound to offend someone.

    Nevertheless, I'm uncomfortable with anyone setting up any group or organisation where membership is based on race or perceived racial culture. It just feels more divisive than unifying as in the proposed Black Players' Union stand against racism. And one-issue tend to be self-defeating in the long run.

    As for the membership qualification, I guess it will be self-defining. It is sad that how people see themselves should be based on hereditary rather than the here and now.

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  2. You know, I really think, in the U.S., anyway, that a lot of trouble began when people began to identify themselves or groups in a racial way. African-Americans, German-Americans, etc. It seemed to start the separate group mentality. Most "black" Americans have never seen Africa. In fact, due to our very poor educational system, I am sure there is a majority of "black" Americans who could not point to Africa on a world globe! Shameful!

    Without a mother who was white and from the "heartland", Mr. Obama would not be president, I am quite sure. As I am also quite sure that the monied friends of Mr. Romney have given a good portion of their donations just to be rid of our first "black" president. We will not say so here in America, but I am quite sure that there is a percentage of people who would say that racism is worse now than 40 years ago.

    It is skin. It is only skin.

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  3. Beige kids are my favorites. No matter how you mix races you get some shade of beige. In my own family there are several, from a variety of races. Racism might finally die when everyone is beige. And then humans will have to find something else on which to base their meanness to each other. I think your questions are valid.

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  4. YP, i wonder if everyone is missing the point here. By setting up a black union aren't they practising racism too? - Dave

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  5. SHOOTING PARROTS I agree that it probably would be divisive. Regarding membership, I wonder if I could join? Doubtless I wouldn't pass the entry test.
    MOUNTAIN THYME Skin is only skin. Surely that was the underlying belief in America's civil rights movement and in this line from Jefferson Airplane - one that I have always remembered - "We should be together - all you people standing round"
    JAN BLAWAT (&HELEN)Beige? Don't you mean coffee coloured? But I guess you're right that if race wasn't a source of prejudice, human beings would fill the gap with other prejudices.
    DAVE I agree with you Dave. Who would decide on racial/skin credentials for admission?

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  6. I think it's very hard to understand what it means to be black unless you are black.

    I agree with some of the issues about black groups and the divisive nature but really it's not my business as I can never really empathise.

    The US and its supposed melting pot mentality isa joke both ways. Give me the UK and multi culturalism anyday- for my money us, France and Holland the most racially integral countries in the world. So I have no idea why these footballers would argue not.

    The issues with poverty, aspiration generally in the UK now have created the current media hyped ill feeling about race.

    Danny Boyle did much to try to rescue some sort of respect for our exceptional British mixed heritage culture following the riots last year. Unfortunately that seemed to have affected the bigots even more and anyone who uses race as a means of oneupmanship- usually those who are the lowest form of society.

    don't even start me on Asia and Oceania. So far removed from any point of globalism it's astounding.

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  7. BANGKOKY BOOTH Thank you for your thoughtful input and for not shooting me down in flames for daring to step into this difficult territory.

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