Jan 06, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Things took a nasty turn for Manchester United’s forward, Edison Cavani, last week. It was for one word posted that ended up costing the Uruguayan player US$137,000 and a three-game suspension by the UK’s Football Association.
We share this foreign story about what was originally taught to be a momentary oral mistake, only to learn that what is happening is less of an oral mistake, and more like one of those misinterpreted oral snafus. It is also intended to assist here, with our own sharp and sensitive racial issues, to get our wits about us, get real, and make reasonable determinations of what would be considered demeaning and worse, as in racially charged.
Airing this out should help get clarity and honesty with our own perspectives, conversations, and approaches.
Compliments of an article from an online vehicle named AFP dated January 1 and titled, “Uruguay language academy irate over Cavani ‘negrito’ sanction” (AFP, January 01), the following behind the scenes details have now come to light. The combined fine and suspension is over the player’s inclusion of the word ‘negrito’ in a social media post. The British FA found the comment was “insulting, abusive, improper and brought the game into disrepute.”
That is certainly a mouthful, but which when put into the context of Uruguayan use among family and friends, adds a different sheen to all of this. It definitely transforms Mr. Cavani’s sin, thought to be so extreme as to be cardinal, into something that looks more and more like it was blown to ridiculous proportions. We now quote to some length from the same AFP article.
On Friday, Uruguay’s Academia Nacional de Letras said the words “negro” or its diminutive “negrito” — similar to “gordo” (fatso) or “gordito” and “flaco” (skinny one) — are commonly used as terms of endearment. Terms of endearment, indeed, which should make one Ms Meryl Streep wistful for her glossier days, which one would hope is not a firing offense. “In the Spanish of Uruguay, for example, in couples or among friends, between parents and children, one often hears and reads expressions such as… gordito, negri, negrito…” the academy said in a statement.
As we take all of this in, and present them to this paper’s readership, we ask our fellow citizens to do several things. To be truthful and frank; and not to pretend at some out of this world hypocrisy. We think that the British FA in this specific situation involving Mr. Cavani acted hastily, that the prestigious football body overreacted.
In this country, we will not engage in the deception of pretending that racial slurs (way more hurtful than ‘negrito’) are no longer part of our daily exchanges. Words also beginning with ‘n’ spelt differently, enjoy heavy use among friends, especially of the younger, faster crowd, and others such as gang members or wannabee criminals. Words that serve as part of our public exchanges, and form part of the daily give and take, especially among close relationships. The exact same standard is at work when applied to those who followed slaves, came from another continent, and with the singular difference of no chains. In this instance, the word begins with a ‘c’ and still enjoys much usage here. One hesitates to say popularity, because it is also considered to be disparaging when hurled at those outside of one’s inner circles, or by one of a different ethnicity, with every intention of being either demeaning or hurtful.
And in other Guyanese social contexts, there is still some humor to read of those identified by their aliases, which span a spectrum spanning from ‘fatman’ to ‘fineman to ‘stupidman.’ Then, there is that foreign import ‘deportee’ and the regular old wake house nightmare, as in ‘jumbie’ or ‘baccoo’ or ‘ole higue’ and so forth.
We are sure that there is a range of others that would cause doubling over, or giving offense (rightly or wrongly), or which brings about darker dreads due to closet lifestyle orientations. This is real life, regional and Guyanese style. This is what can only be legislated against so far, this is what may have gone undercover to some extent but, again, cannot really be snuffed out completely. We do not foresee the local ERC reaching for its handcuffs for those things that, when contextualized properly, are largely harmless.
The key is that it must be limited to friends and family. We think the British FA overreacted. This should be reversed, as Mr. Cavani’s compatriots are insisting.
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