The English soccer authorities suspended a foreign star for a racially offensive remark. It was nothing of the kind.
"Zero-tolerance" policies are stupid by definition -- they are saying explicitly "We are not going to think about this, we are going to behave in automatic, i.e. unintelligent, ways."
This is how we get to cases like Cavani's, or little boys expelled from school for bringing plastic butter knives to make their lunch sandwiches.
I mention this because I've seen a tendency to think that there are good-and-bad ZTPs, and we just need to keep the good ones and weed out the bad ones. No. There is never a good enough reason for installing an Off switch on our minds, and there's no such thing as a ZTP that can't lead to an idiotic -- not to mention unfair and harmful -- application.
Everyone left-of-center in the US should read this. The harsh racial lines in the US don’t necessarily reflect global cultural attitudes. This article reminds me of an experience I had several years ago. I met a friend visiting from Shanghai in NYC. We stopped for a cocktail at a chic bar. She invited a friend from South Korea to join us. Let’s call the friend Lee. Our server was Indian. As he was walking away from the table, Lee openly began to imitate his accent and mannerisms. My friend and I cringed, and told Lee that in the US, making fun of other races is considered taboo. She asked why. We started to explain but quickly realized we were falling into a cultural abyss. There was no way to bridge the gap and why should we.
The harsh racial relations in America are unique. Native peoples were wiped out. Slavery ruled for two hundred years. The mingling of races was illegal until recently. The Right tries to downplay this history; the Left now makes it the center of everything. In reality, America has little to teach the rest of the world about race relations.
Excellent commentary on what is indeed a highly complex issue. You are right - context is everything. While the simple black/white paradigm does not apply in most of Latin America and the Caribbean, there are other things going on below the surface. When I lived in the Dominican Republic, for example, it was an article of faith that someone as black as José Peña Gómez couldn't be elected president, despite being the country's most popular politician. I am American, and fondly would call my Venezuelan partner "negra" from time to time, as one might do in the Caribbean. Then Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd's throat until he died, and the racil divide in the U.S. returned to front and center in the global conversation. My girlfriend told me to to strop calling her "negra." Context is everything.
I can attest from personal experience that Dariela Sosa is spot on that this word does not have negative connotations in Latin America. About 20 years ago, I made the first of many visits to Brazil, spending several weeks with a friend and his family in Assis, a small agricultural city in eastern Sao Paulo state. One of the local people my friend introduced me to was his close friend Sabino, a Black man who to my surprise he referred to as "my little Negro". When I asked him about it, explaining that in the U.S. this would be seen as highly offensive, he told me that it was a common and normal term of endearment between good friends, pointing out that Sabino referred to him (in Portuguese, which I didn't speak) as "my little Mutt" (my friend is one of many Brazilians of mixed race, four different ethnic backgrounds). What I learned is that cultural norms vary greatly, and it's incumbent on all of us not to judge other people-cultures by our norms-values of appropriateness. As Ms. Sosa states " Applied without regard for social, cultural and linguistic context, antiracism efforts risk becoming a caricature of themselves, driving a wedge between people of different cultures rather than bringing them together.... The English Football Association, with its over-the-top sanction of Cavani, managed instead to show only mindless adherence to a brand of maximalist Anglo-American antiracism ideology that does little to combat racism itself". A reasonable response might have been to ask Cavini to explain the context of the world Negrito in his culture, or even to ask him to remove the post so as not to risk misunderstanding. To punish and fine him is beyond obscene and makes a mockery of efforts to combat the very real racism that sadly exists all over the world.
Greetings Ms Sosa, I think that your note misses two important issues. The first is that the EPL response represents their lack of cultural competence. A well informed and educated organization would have captured the nuance you share and use it as an educational opportunity. The second is that, although the contextual aspects of race in latin countries that you describe exists (as it does in part of the US), there is substantive evidence that colorism in latin countries has an economic effect, i.e., being darker and poor are highly correlated.