A former British soccer star is making headlines with his claims that racism in the UK is deeply ingrained in the nation’s psyche thanks to literature. John Barnes, who moved to England from Jamaica in his teens made the comments earlier this week in a speech at Liverpool University about the causes of racism in football.
Barnes launched his fierce attack on literature in a lecture to students at Liverpool University about the causes of racism in football.
The father of seven told the audience that ‘passive racism is inherent in all of us’ because of ‘preconceived ideas’ planted through books and films.
He said: ‘Over the last 200 years we have had negative images of black people … in literature by Rudyard Kipling to Agatha Christie. Tarzan showed that.
‘Racism came from the idea of race, which is a man-made construct. Race is not scientific or genetic. It does not actually exist. Race came about to validate and justify colonialism and slavery.’
He added: ‘There are examples everywhere. Rudyard Kipling, one of our greatest heroes, wrote The White Man’s Burden, in which he wrote it was incumbent on the Americans to go and civilise the savages in the Philippines.
‘Colonialism in Africa – Agatha Christie wrote a book called Ten Little N*****s. Would we accuse Agatha Christie of being racist? No, but that is passive racism.’
Barnes moved to England aged 13 in the late 1970s when his father was Jamaica’s military attaché to London. He is among England’s most-capped black players, but at Liverpool FC he was regularly subjected to racist abuse from spectators and infamously had a banana hurled at him during a Merseyside derby with Everton at Goodison Park.
Twice married, Barnes has called for the National Curriculum to be revised so all children are taught that race is only a concept. He said: ‘If we get rid of passive racism then overcoming overt racism will take care of itself.’