Saturday May 3 2014

How to combat racism

Alves eats the banana thrown at him by

Alves eats the banana thrown at him by Villarreal fans at the weekend. agencies photo 

By Moses Banturaki

Racism shows up in many forms. It could be football fans throwing a banana or a billionaire warning his girlfriend off blacks or indeed a ‘famous’ Kampala hang-out clearly stating its preferences when it comes to the skin pigment of its patrons.

In all the above instances, it is clear that this is just an ignorant minority who are convinced they can assume superiority by putting down others based on the physical differences that exist amongst us humans.

But this is 2014 you see and not 1814 and the knowledge and exposure we have accumulated over the years tells us that racial discrimination is the drug simple minds use to fix their insecurities.

Yes different races have different attributes. They could be physical or behavioral and that is an apparent fact of nature and nurture that should represent no crisis at all.

Yet it still irritates us that some people still rely upon evolutionary and historical differences to discriminate against others.

It annoys us because whenever racism rears its head, we go at it with a sledge hammer.

This is why an octogenarian who is clearly wary of his own virility has now been banned for life from owning another NBA franchise. It is also why some circles are calling that Villarreal plays before empty terraces or that Bubbles O’Leary gets torched. But I believe all of that is uncalled for.

In fact, I am convinced that going after racism with the kind of crude methods it represents draws everyone right back into the gutter we are trying to climb out of.

If racism in whatever form is just an attempt to assume superiority, then heavy punitive measures are in a way an acceptance of this assumed superiority – a big threat that must be dealt with heavily.

Therefore, I suggest we treat racist behavior with the kind of contempt it deserves. However, its important to acknowledge that this would be best achieved by not fighting anger with anger but rather giving it the least possible attention. It is also why I particularly like the methods of Dani Alves. I didn’t watch the game on TV but the ensuing Alves You Tube clip has gone viral.

The nonchalance with which he picks the banana thrown at him is borderline comical but also cool – a refusal to feel let down by a thug who believes that this act should achieve exactly that.

Alves went on to create two assists in that game (perhaps boosted by potassium) but his actions have sparked off celebrity action all over social media.

All of a sudden, racism is faced with a weapon it has never had to contend with. It used to thrive on the silent suffering of the down trodden but now we have celebrities both dark and light peeling bananas on Instagram.

This then is
ignorance must be fought - with a universal light heartedness that will serve the ultimate purpose of reminding all of us that peace can disarm even the most evil of methods.

Walking away from the simplifications of a pub owner allows lost business opportunity do your protests. And when a fan throws a banana at you pick it and eat it and go and assist two goals - now that was classic.