Rio the Racist

July 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

There’s been a lot of confusion around the initially absurd sounding quandary that Rio Ferdinand could be racist, or at least have sounded racist over twitter. Confusion, that arises from a fundamental contradiction that I have tried to articulate here.

The BBC did an interview with a couple of young, black, arsenal football players about two nights ago. When asked if they thought Rio Ferdinand had used the term in a racist manner, their answer was along the lines of, “no, how can he be racist, he’s probably had to deal with that sort of thing all his life”, and I agreed with them. When asked weather they would find it offensive if they were called a “choc ice”, they said they would be. The problem here is, to find the comment offence he must also call Rio a racist. We cannot have the absurd situation where people’s vocabulary is restricted by their race. Because to tell a man he can’t use a certain words because he is white or Asian say, is to discriminating along racial lines, and is racist. So I came to the rather counter intuitive conclusion that yes, Rio is a racist.
These issues may sound familiar because of the paradox surrounding the N word. It is socially acceptable for black people to use it, and not so for white people. This is very understandable because of the vicious history behind the word. Black people started using the word to mock the beliefs and attitudes of their ignorant oppressors. I can understand how it must have felt liberating and good, and I think the word is set to remain, quite rightly, in black vocabulary and culture. But my generation is far detached from the generation who was using such words so derogatively. We cannot have young people today inventing words and terms that can only be used by certain races, if anything that will only create social tension. People must agree either not to use certain terms, or stop finding terms they might use themselves offensive, when said by people of other races.

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