World Cup winner and Anti-Racism campaigner speaks about Discrimination

Diversity Today

During a recent interview with Isabelle Kumar of Euronews, Lilian Thuram spoke about racism in football and society, highlighting his concerns surrounding the issue.

You have to explain to children that we are not born racist. We become racist, because racism is a cultural thing. I mean that throughout history we have always been shut into hierarchies linked to the colour of our skin, and so hierarchies are there in all of us and we have to question them in order to overcome them.”

…do you really think that sexism is part of human nature? No, I think that sexism is the oldest of the hierarchies which exist between men and women and it’s a construction, used to exploit women. And racism is exactly the same thing. At a certain moment in history, in order to exploit non-white people, their inferiority had to be constructed.

When I was in the French team no, but when we played in Italy it’s true, sadly that very often some supporters made monkey noises when people of my colour touched the ball. But I understood it was just part of the same thing. Why were they making monkey noises and not cat of dog noises? Quite simply because for centuries people were told that black people were the missing link in the chain between monkeys and white people. And even in school books, they said that there was a superior race.

I was born in Guadeloupe, and moved to Paris when I was nine-years-old and at that time there was this little cartoon on the television, where they had two cows, one very very stupid black one, called Blackie and a very very intelligent white cow, Whitie and some of my friends called me the black cow’s name, Blackie and that made me sad.

And I remember one day coming home from school I asked my mother why black people were seen so negatively and she didn’t know the answer. She said, ‘You know darling, that’s just the way it is, people are racist, and that will never change’. That was a very very bad answer of my mother’s because it was an invitation to remain a victim, to stay with that sort of fatalism, but luckily I questioned that idea and I understood that racism is an intellectual construction and so we can de-construct it.

The full interview including video footage can be viewed via EuroNews by clicking here



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