A tweet from Bernardo Silva that jokingly compared team-mate Benjamin Mendy with Conguitos man didn’t go down too well. Mendy found it amusing but the overriding issue was the size of the joke’s audience and the racism invoked.
Everyone is allowed to have private jokes. Edgy jokes are often a formality when it comes to close friendships. Nobody is trying to police the words that one uses with their close friends; this isn’t 1984 where everybody is under constant surveillance.
Naivety Caused Bernardo Silva Racism Storm
Private jokes that are brought to the public medium can be interpreted in lots of different ways. People could well think that because Bernardo Silva has made a racist gag in the direction of Mendy that it is acceptable for any white man to make a similar remark to any black man. People are very easily influenced by what they hear or read in the media. There are avid readers of certain newspapers who have such a narrow-minded view of the world; they simply regurgitate what they say and hear as opposed to processing that information and making their own judgement.
Silva is very good friends with Mendy and they clearly like to indulge in some banter. Let them have that but let them have it in private. It is very dangerous to let people interpret information. Statistics and agenda-driven pieces have prompted hate crime and abuse of certain groups. Headlines that label terrorists as ‘Muslim terrorists’ create a negative attitude towards the religion of Islam and its followers. If people constantly read and hear those two words as a collocation then they make negative depictions of this religious group.
Some commentators have played down the tweet; they have compared it to saying that Kevin de Bruyne looks like the Milky Bar Kid. It goes beyond simply suggesting somebody looks like somebody else. It is about semantics that stem from a history of mistreatment. Society has moved a long way in terms of racial equality so it is important to be bringing the upcoming generations into a society that does not consider skin colour as a method of hierarchy.
Some may argue that this joke is not indicating a hierarchy at play. Indeed, it doesn’t really, but accepting this small level of racism in the public stratosphere opens up the path to regression. A small thing can snowball into something bigger and then that’s when the real problems surface. Political correctness gets a rough ride but it does try to ensure that everybody gets a level of fairness across the board. Sure, the policing of what we say can seem a little much at times but it certainly does more good than bad. It opens up doors for women, ethnic minorities and other people who would previously have been disadvantaged because they weren’t a straight white male.
Looking Beyond the Racism
Some people can look beyond the racism and see the joke for what it is: an edgy roast between two friends. Many others will be able to relate to this type of humour that they would only share with close friends. Unfortunately, other interpretations make this whole affair much more political and overblown than it ever had to be.
Bernardo Silva does not appear to be a racist; he just appears to be very naive and silly.