Sunday, April 03, 2016
United We Stand, Albeit In Blackface
Hmm. Here's the sorta weird but trying-to-be-good-guys response by an amateur German soccer team after two of their teammates, both Sudanese refugees, were attacked last week. The two members of #NurDerDSV, Emad Babiker and Amar Alnoor, were assaulted in the team’s hometown of Deinster in northern Germany; Emad was thrown to the ground, beaten and kicked, and Amar was cussed out with racist slurs. All less than surprising, it must be said, given European soccer's ugly history of racism - cue banana peels and monkey taunts hurled at black players on the field - and the rise of right-wing groups sparked by the refugee crisis and ensuing if irrational fears of terrorism.
More surprising and heartening-with-a-pinch-of-ambivalence was the response by the close-knit members of Deinster SV, who weren't having it. Seeking to show solidarity in a country where blackface is evidently considered not just acceptable but a popular part of Karneval and other celebrations - and where history is somewhat kinder to blacks than Jews - all the team members painted their faces, yes, black. (Earlier reports had the black photo-shopped in, but that was reportedly a translation snafu.) Team officials said they "wanted to make it clear that Emad and Amar are an integral part of our team." They chose a visual not verbal stand, the coach explained, because while the newcomers' German is improving, the "emotional nuances it is not enough" to get the message across. One teammate's Facebook post likewise read, "Violence against refugees is pathetic. Emad and Amar, you are one of us.” Both the post and blackface image have been shared on hashtags like #UnitedWeStand and #DevidedWeFall over 21,000 times. Hopefully, and apparently, for the right reasons.