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Racism In The World Cup

2014 World Cup

How To Fight Racism in The World Cup

I’ll confess flat out here that I’m not a fan of futbol, or soccer if you will.  I played it as a child for a couple of years, and certainly enjoyed it, but the sport just never really grew on me.   The NBA is my favorite sport nowadays, and anytime I hear of the crazy nationalistic violence that soccer spurs from time to time, I cringe, since we don’t tend to see much violence anymore related to the NBA.  We also don’t see fans in the stands wearing blackface (can’t believe I even need to type this), which unfortunately you do see at soccer’s crown jewel event, the World Cup.  This sits as a pretty over-the-top reminder that yes, humanity still has a racism problem, and that apparently some adults in this world are as mature as 10 year-old children.  Actually, I’ll wager that quite a few 10 year-old children are much mature than some of these folks you’re about to see.

So articles popped up this week all over the net, all around the world, talking about the racist displays at the Cup.  Many of them talked about what little FIFA does to actually curb the displays, and most of them failed to get the actual FACTS straight about who was who and from where, putting some countries on the defensive (read: Germany) for being falsely over-reported in the situation.  There were the usual Twitter flame wars, entire comments sections just rife with garbage (a few rational arguments and debates popping up on occasion), and just… wow.  Absolutely wow.

I’m well-seasoned in sifting through the rubble during these kinds of situations, but I’ll admit… this one actually put my brain on overload.  And the craziest part to me, as an advocate for action not just words, was the noticeable lack of solutions brought forth from anyone.  I understand it can feel like you’re going down the rabbit hole of no logical return when you start delving into racist actions, and in this case, speaking of rabbit holes, we’re talking absurd “Alice in Wonderland” levels of it.  Look at the graphic below and try to tell me otherwise.


The solution here is the same as it has been for decades, and is really applicable to multiple problems, not just racism.  We get so wrapped up in the scope of the problem that we forget how simple the start of the solution truly is.  If I were to ask you what you consider perhaps the #1 catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement, what would the majority of you say?  Rosa Parks, right?  And what did Rosa Parks do?  She refused to give up her seat on a bus.  Yes, that meant breaking the law back then, and she was indeed arrested, but think about what she did, her action.  She kept her seat on a bus.  Now fast forward to 2014… you’re sitting in a giant stadium watching a World Cup soccer game, and you see these guys in front of you:

What do you do?  Well, according to some people (rather intelligent people even) in comments sections on some of these articles, you should do nothing.  You should sit there and ignore it.  And not only should you sit there and ignore it, but the media should completely ignore it as well.  Why?  Because, according to the “Let’s Silently Fight Racism” hypothesis here, the only reason people are acting so ignorantly at these games is just so they can get in the news; therefore, if we just pretend they aren’t there and ignore them, everything will go away.  Oh wait, save for the people who actually like the ignorant behavior, and approach folks in blackface to get a picture taken with them.

So let me clear this up with the quickness.  You see these guys in front of you, and what do you do?  You confront them.  And actually, you get everyone else in the vicinity who you can tell are also disgusted by the behavior, and you recruit them to join you in confronting them.  And you know what?  If you feel insecure, or perhaps you feel it’s unsafe to confront these folks at a freakin’ soccer game, then you go get security, and you pull them into the mix at some point as well.  How “secure” do you think Rosa Parks felt when she refused to give up her seat, under threat of arrest?!

The security at World Cup games is trained for everything up to and including terrorist attacks, so I’m guessing it’s a safe bet that you and a group of others telling the ignorant black face white guys that you are deeply offended, and that they should take a moment to go use the facilities and remove their “makeup”, is not going to ignite World War III.  And this, right here, is where the change happens.  It doesn’t happen from ignoring the situation, it occurs when we reach critical mass, confrontationally speaking.

What the heck does that mean?  It means that enough people in that area of the stadium, and any area at any public event, reach a large enough level that the folks acting like idiots realize that, “Hmmm… maybe this isn’t such a great idea after all?  Why is everyone yelling at us?”  Think about it.  When people like this showcase their ignorance, multiple others will feel discomfort for the entire game.  Why should those people just sit there, uncomfortably in silence, for their entire time at the event?  You know what that would be comparable to in Rosa Parks’ world?  Getting up and moving to the back of the bus.

So if you want things to change… if you really care about fighting racism… then if you find yourself in that sort of situation, you will stand up for what’s right, however you can, and not sit back idly.  You will be one of the people that helps reach the critical mass, the point where the people acting out of ignorance and/or hatred are the ones made to feel uncomfortable, instead of the good people there to have fun and watch their favorite team play a game of soccer.

And to the commenters who say that the media should also ignore the racist actions, guess what they’ll report on when a group of people stands up and convinces a couple of racists in blackface to go wash the ignorance off their faces if they want to enjoy the rest of the game in peace?  Yeah, THEN you have a story.  And what happens when word starts to spread that if you decide to flaunt your racism at a World Cup game, you will have no chance to enjoy the game because of the backlash you’ll receive?  Right, THAT’S when the change kicks in — that’s when the media doing their job actually helps the situation.

So stop thinking that we are powerless here folks.  You dishonor all of the courage and sacrifice in humanity’s past, from all over the planet, when you take the silent route.

Credits: Neo-Nazis, Blackface and Homophobia at the World Cup – Colorlines

Credits: http://www.motherjones.com/mixed-media/2014/06/world-cup-racism-homophobia-brazil