The English Football Association banned Liverpool forward and Uruguayan national Luis Suarez for eight games and levied a fine of £40,000 (roughly $62,000) for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, French national born in Senegal, at an October 15th Premier League match. The slur in question? “Negro,” a term that, according to The Telegraph, Suarez claims wasn’t racially motivated.
I’m calling bullshit. There is no doubt in my mind that Suarez’s jabs at his opponents were intently racist because prejudice and bigotry is still very much alive in Latin America. Furthermore, the Uruguayan can’t use the “I’m from South America, I didn’t know that was racist” card because he’s spent most of his footballing career playing in Europe (with Ajax and Liverpool), where UEFA has thrown its weight behind the “Say No To Racism” campaign. The statute of limitations on that excuse ran out a long time ago, making his actions indefensible.
And if you need proof that racial bigotry is rampant south of the border, watch the video below. In it several Mexican children are subjected to the famous Kenneth and Mamie doll experiment, a trial where they’re asked questions pertaining to race and can only answer by pointing to two dolls (one white and one black).
Eight year olds, dude.
My family is guilty of this type of behavior, too. Both my parents were born in Mexico and didn’t move to the United States until their teens (they’re both U.S. citizens, in case your’e wondering), so I consider them Mexican more than assimilated Latinos. They’ve held on to their native tongue (which is great) as well as their prejudices (which is not so great). A couple of years ago I dated a Vietnamese-American briefly, which didn’t go unnoticed by my folks. Whenever I would talk to them on the phone, they’d ask about my china, about the taka taka. I once confronted and corrected them on this. They seemed befuddled, unaware that what they were doing wasn’t acceptable. It took the passing of Arizona’s SB 1070 and its anti-immigrant rhetoric (which, let’s face it, is coded language for “anti-Latino”) for them to come to their senses.
Make no mistake. I’m not implying that all Latinos are bigoted, and I’d even go as far as to say that Latinos in the United States are more mindful of prejudices than in Latin America because we live in a place where we’re the minority and are therefore discriminated against. That’s why it’s important to call people like Luis Suarez out for this unacceptable behavior and strive to be open-minded and respectful.