Lilian Thuram, ex-footballer: “Let us have the courage to take off the masks of identity” | sports | Sport Breaking News Updates

Lilian Thuram, ex-footballer: “Let us have the courage to take off the masks of identity” | sports

It is rare for an elite footballer to have, after hanging up his boots, another career outside of the sport. Lilian Thuram (Guadeloupe, 49 years old) was world champion with France and played, among other teams, with Juventus and Barça. At the head of the Education Against Racism Foundation, Thuram has published an essay in French La pensée blanche (The white thought, not translated into Spanish).

Ask. “Don’t forget the color of your skin,” you used to say to your children. Why?

Answer. Do you live in public space in the same way if you are a man or a woman? No. Do you experience it the same way if it is valid or if you are in a wheelchair? No. People who do not suffer discrimination, are they aware of it? My idea is to tell the children: “You will be discriminated against and you will have to defend yourself.”

P. Defend yourself how?

R. When you are categorized as black, you too often suffer mini-assaults or violence. It can be an assault of the gaze, people who are afraid of you, and you do not know why. When you are a young black man, you are more likely to be controlled by the police on the street. You will have to work harder to have the same opportunities as other people categorized as white. By saying this to my children, I am trying to make them aware of racism. And tell them: “Attention, do not allow anyone to enclose you in this category called black, and do not enclose yourself in it.”

P. Isn’t it paradoxical? It tells them to remember their identity and to forget it.

R. There is no paradox. To free yourself from an identity, you have to become aware of it. It is not about forgetting it, but about questioning it to overcome it.

P. How did you find out that he was black?

R. At age nine, in the CM2 class [quinto curso de primaria] In the Paris region, some children insulted me by calling me “dirty black”. I receive it as an internal wound, an invisible bite. I tell my mother, who gives me a very bad answer: “Darling, people are racist. It is like that and it will never change ”.

P. Children who insult you are white.

R. I, who turn black at nine, ask myself: “At what age did these children turn white? At what age did they assume a superiority complex? “

P. How does a child turn white?

R. When my son Khéphren was four or five years old and we were living in Italy, one day I said to him: “Are you the only black boy in your class?” He tells me: “Dad, I’m not black. I am brown ”. And I ask him: “And the others in your class, what color are they?” He says: “Roses.” I understood that young children don’t use the black and white categories like adults do. Children, conditioned by their environment, will end up reproducing these categories without knowing that they are linked to the racialization of the world, to the fabrication of a hierarchy in which the white race was at the top. This was taught in France until the 1950s.

P. As a footballer, did you suffer from racism?

R. Sure, especially in Italy where I played for 10 years.

P. And in Barcelona?

R. No, not in Barcelona. But at the Atlético de Madrid stadium, some fans insulted me and said: “They should never have taken the shackles off your feet.” You have to talk about this calmly and serenely, and understand that racism is a cultural heritage.

P. In what sense?

R. When fans compare black players to apes, there is a historical continuity. In the 18th century there were scientists who claimed that blacks were the missing link between the ape and the white man. The fans ignore him, but his behavior is a cultural heritage. Let’s question our identities of color if we want to move forward. Let us have the courage to take off our masks of identity. Isn’t it time to consider ourselves as human beings?

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Cammile Bussière

One of the most important things for me as a press writer is the technical news that changes our world day by day, so I write in this area of technology across many sites and I am.

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