Bonucci’s Kean comments Emphasises point that those who haven’t Experienced Racism don’t understand it
Moise Kean is definitely a talent in the making. Four goals in four games, for club and country, in the space of 11 games. In Juventus’ game at home to Empoli at the weekend, manager Max Allegri spoke beforehand of not starting Kean because he was protecting him from the hype, and whatever negative outcome that would follow a potentially underwhelming. But Kean did nothing to quell that hype after coming to score the winning goal with his first touch. That’s been him of late.
So, after scoring on Tuesday, at Cagliari, it was supposed to be more talk of Kean, the 19 year-old who can seemingly do no wrong. But here we are again, in 2019, as the game and its post-match was dominated with more racist slurs. Kean was subject to monkey chants from the Cagliari fans in the game, and he celebrated his goal by celebrating in front of them, which birthed more chants.
It was another distasteful moment, for a Cagliari side that had done the same at Juve’s Blaise Matuidi – who was furiously complaining to Allegri about it in this game, and called on the referee to halt the game – as well as Mario Balotelli and Samuel Eto’o in the past. But perhaps the most astonishing act was when teammate Leonardo Bonucci – after the game – spoke of Kean having to share 50% of the blame. ‘He needs to be contained’ said the Juve defender, who tried to stop Kean’s celebrations, when Cagliari skipper Luca Ceppitelli was urging his fans to stop the chants. Allegri also followed a similar tune to Bonucci’s, claiming that you should not instigate after scoring.
There are many teams to draw from this, such as the sidebar that is Bonucci’s hypocrisy, as the player almost always celebrates with a wash-your-mouths act when he scores, the kind of thing that would instigate and enrage fans. Then there’s Italian football, football in itself, and society’s laissez-faire attitude towards racism, embodied when Cagliari president Tommaso Giullini said the same thing would have happened if it had been a white player who celebrated that way, and the claims that they heard no racist chants from fans before Kean’s goal.
But, this also emphasises the point that it’s difficult to understand racism if you’ve never experienced it, as Danny Gabbidon pointed out in the Guardian. I live in a part of the world where racism isn’t the rifest of issues. And here, I’ve heard those who have talked about players, and people, facing racism with the same kind of brushing off they do when they talk off some minor issue, like forgetting to properly clean your shoe before leaving your home, or forgetting to clean your car tyres. That’s hardly their fault; we hardly experience that issue here, and can be forgiven for dismissing it.
And this just doesn’t happen in cases of racism. Issues of sexism, and other forms of oppression also face these kind of underwhelming retorts. Calls of ‘it doesn’t really happen’ or ‘it’s never that serious’, from people who haven’t faced it. People who haven’t missed out on jobs just because they were black or women, people who haven’t had to fight through life with one hand tied behind their backs while another gender or colour were armed with swords. Hence why Bonucci could have downplayed the issue – on which they’ve never quite faced before.
How does one fix this sort of issue, one where lack of experience constitutes lack of understanding? Ultimately, it’s education and inclusion. I listened to Mike Calvin speak on a Guardian football podcast about the racial issues faced by England players Danny Rose, Raheem Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi in Montenegro, and he talked very well about how there are very few people from the supposed minority in the mainstream media, hence education on these things is non-existent. I’ve seen the likes of Musa Okwonga and Darren Lewis talk well on racist issues, and they, being part of the very few, show how much inclusion will enhance education on this despicable matter.
As Jonathan Liew once said, identifying and condemning racists and racism are the easy bits, but doing something about it is the hard part. But if this Kean issue is an embodiment, as it should be, apparently condemning racism and racists is not even as straightforward, because suddenly there are defences to them, and your teammate who’s supposed to defend you on things like these can say you should also bear part of the blame (though Bonucci has released another comment afterwards). It’s 2019. We really ought to have made progress.