Thursday, March 02, 2006
But They're Just Chocolate-Covered Peanuts
Geoff is in Barcelona this week, working on a story about racism and soccer. It comes on the heels of an incident at a Barça game in Zaragoza on Saturday, when the home fans started making ape noises at the Cameroon-born player Eto’o. Unfortunately, that kind of shit has become par for the course at Spanish soccer games. One of the most amazing things that Geoff told me is that one of his sources told him that making ape noises at black players “isn’t racist.” The fans, in his view, just want to insult their opponents. And monkey noises lobbed at black players are, apparently, like any other insult.
Ah, the famous, “It’s not racism” argument. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Spaniards tell me that they’re not racist. When they dress in blackface for costume parties, it’s not racist, it’s “funny.” When Conguitos (translation, “little Congolese”) a type of chocolate-covered peanut, carry a cartoon of a naked African child with thick lips and a distended belly on its label, it’s not racism, it’s “marketing.” And now, when thousands of fans make ape noises at black players—and only black players—it’s not racism, it’s just the enthusiasm of fans.