Opinions

The disturbing response to #BlackLivesMatter

Mark Keohane, writing for IOL Sport

Last weekend I wrote a piece on sport and #BlackLivesMatter. The piece featured in the Independent Media Saturday papers across the country and was also shared on the digital platforms, my blog and by extension the piece was shared on SA Rugby Magazine’s Facebook page.

There were more than 2000 reactions, comments and shares on the piece, but what struck me was the hatred, anger and unapologetic racist response from so many in telling me to piss off, to stop apologizing for being white and to promote unity with #AllLivesMatter

I was accused of having white guilt and lacking perspective.

Messages to my inbox were laced with crassness and vitriol and they were not meant to engage discussion or debate. They were statements, delivered as fact, and with a full stop that they had spoken. I needed to listen and then move on.

It merely highlighted just how far we in South Africa have to go when it comes to equality and how ingrained the prejudice is among sports fans.

#BlackLivesMatter was interpreted as me pushing a transformation agenda. I was told I was anti-white and I was told to stop causing trouble. The word used wasn’t as polite as trouble, though, and the insults and profanities were comfortably packaged with the respective responses.

The response wasn’t unexpected but it was still disturbing to know that so many still think this way and that so many can’t recognize that all lives haven’t mattered equally and that white lives, by definition, have always mattered.

#BlackLivesMatter is about acknowledging equality and accepting that a black life is in no way inferior to a white life. It is about challenging white prejudice and in the sporting environment that white prejudice has been around for centuries because the narrative in sport has traditionally been told from a white perspective.

Merit, in a South African sporting context, has always meant white and people don’t even realise the deep hurt their comments can cause because they don’t see the harm in a comment like ‘I support Siya Kolisi because he is a merit selection’.

WTF?

I said this a week ago but it can never be said enough: I’ve never heard a black player tell me he has no issue with white players in a team because ‘they’ are ‘merit’ selections.

I am not black and would never know what it must feel like to suffer such prejudice and such judgement. I can imagine how awful it must be from what I hear, read and get told by black sports people, but not for a moment could I say ‘I know what you mean’. I couldn’t because I don’t know.

It is why #BlackLivesMatter can’t be wished away as a protest or an occasion or moment in consciousness. It has to be spoken about every day because that is the only way there will be education and understanding.

In South Africa, if we speak of a Rainbow Nation and of Rainbow sporting teams, then we have to be prepared to listen and not react with vitriol because the truth of the content makes white people so uncomfortable.

I don’t have guilt but I certainly know I have privilege. I have never had my ability questioned because of my skin colour or had people patronizingly marvel at my achievements because … well … I wasn’t white.

The very best South African black sporting stars have consistently succeeded in spite of and not because of the history of this country.

There have been improvements and the national sporting environment in South Africa in 2020 is remarkably different to what it was in 1992.

There is a good news story in our sport in that there has been change but the transformation is a work in progress and ignoring the obvious or remaining silent does an injustice to the needed change.

#BlackLivesMatter … they always should have but the reality is that they haven’t in the ways of the world.

#BlackLivesMatter is about hope and happiness and not about hatred.

The late Nelson Mandela famously said sport has the power to heal, but it always has the power to drive change, significantly when it comes to black lives mattering.

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9 thoughts on “The disturbing response to #BlackLivesMatter

  1. Brian says:

    Keo, I read your response to the feedback and am very disappointed at how some white people have reacted BUT I am equally disappointed that you have not done proper research on the BlackLivesMatter movement. The recent protests and riots were in response to the blatant killing of George Floyd which sparked an outcry (and rightly so) from around the world. What the movement failed and still fails to acknowledge is the fact that the there is no direct correlation between the number of black people killed by police in the US and the racial identity of the person that was killed. Furthermore, a study just published by a major University in Michigan concluded that the factor most likely to determine the outcome of an arrest by the police and how the person under arrest is treated is the way that person acts or responds to the police when arrested. The study showed ZERO correlation between the different races but a very strong correlation when looking at the behavior of the person being arrested.
    This is a political movement based on distorting facts for political gain by the left leaning people in the USA. I live in the USA and have a very good understanding of the political agenda’s being played out as well as the real facts based on my intimate knowledge of the current political struggles in the US.
    Nobody should be treated better or worse based on the color of their skin. Any murder should be viewed exactly the same and not viewed as a white or black victim or murderer.
    BlackLivesMatter is run by a dishonest self-serving individual with an agenda which should frighten any person seeking peace , prosperity and equality. This individual has not called for the removal of all statues of Jesus Christ because he is depicted as a White Male. This is an attack on Christianity and an attempt to undermine religion bringing chaos and political instability.
    You might also want to read the latest study on racism in the US across different racial groups because the conclusion will show that racism in not just a white on black issue and in fact shows the issue is even more disturbing when looking at black racism towards white people.
    The issue is complex in the US and in South Africa and I believe nobody should be writing anything on the subject without looking at all the facts from both sides of the political spectrum and then also not being afraid to state the real facts which will most certainly draw the wrath from the Left.

    1. Brian says:

      I needed to correct some errors which I will highlight in CAPITAL LETTERS
      Keo, I read your response to the feedback and am very disappointed at how some white people have reacted BUT I am equally disappointed that you have not done proper research on the BlackLivesMatter movement. The recent protests and riots were in response to the blatant killing of George Floyd which sparked an outcry (and rightly so) from around the world. What the movement failed and still fails to acknowledge is the fact that the there is no direct correlation between the number of people killed by police in the US AND THE RACE OF THAT INDIVIDUAL . Furthermore, a study just published by a major University in Michigan concluded that the factor most likely to determine the outcome of an arrest by the police and how the person under arrest is treated is the way that person acts or responds to the police when arrested. The study showed ZERO correlation between the different races but a very strong correlation when looking at the behavior of the person being arrested.
      This is a political movement based on distorting facts for political gain by the left leaning people in the USA. I live in the USA and have a very good understanding of the political agenda’s being played out as well as the real facts based on my intimate knowledge of the current political struggles in the US.
      Nobody should be treated better or worse based on the color of their skin. Any murder should be viewed exactly the same and not viewed as a white or black victim or murderer.
      BlackLivesMatter is run by a dishonest self-serving individual with an agenda which should frighten any person seeking peace , prosperity and equality. This individual has NOW called for the removal of all statues of Jesus Christ because he is depicted as a White Male. This is an attack on Christianity and an attempt to undermine religion bringing chaos and political instability.
      You might also want to read the latest study on racism in the US across different racial groups because the conclusion will show that racism in not just a white on black issue and in fact shows the issue is even more disturbing when looking at black racism towards white people.
      The issue is complex in the US and in South Africa and I believe nobody should be writing anything on the subject without looking at all the facts from both sides of the political spectrum and then also not being afraid to state the real facts which will most certainly draw the wrath from the Left.

      1. Andre says:

        You claim to live in the US and say that BLM is run by an individual? 😆😂🤣 and that you’re disappointed in KEO for not doing “proper”research 🤣🤣🤣 Based on the statements you’ve made you need to re-evaluate your claim to be a Christian. You’ve probably seen a few episodes of Fox & Friends or clips of Tucker Fartson I mean tucker Carlson, now you’re the guru on race relations and you have the solution to end all debate on the issue. How old are you?

  2. Bryan says:

    When one is reminded on a daily basis of one’s whiteness, called a pink pig, a colonialist and foreigner in one’s own country, there is a point where bending a knee and supporting an openly Marxist movement becomes bullshit.
    And your opinion is worth shit if you undermine mine.

  3. Alby van Wyk says:

    Tough to read the comments Mark. Where to even start? Just try and rise above, keep being an insightful, enlightened voice and know that you have a large number of similar-minded supporters out there.

  4. Koos says:

    Funny how you dont mention rape farm murders corruption and the inequality of affirmative action. Eskom, zuma, racist Corona policies ndz, Cyril and all the filth ruining the country. Because it doesn’t fit your narrative. Sad.

  5. Koos says:

    Hi Bryan!! Please dont come here with your facts and rational arguments. It is kryptonite for these beta male lefties.
    Maybe the author should look up statistics on murder, rape, violence, corruption etc and maybe then find the uncomfortable truth why people are racist!

  6. James says:

    I believe Mark just wrote this artical to promote his own career…But it might backfire…Brians response was correct.

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