Recently, a number of simpletons at Old Trafford have begun singing a chant that is meant to celebrate Romelu Lukaku. The song is painfully shit, and under other circumstances, it would have died a natural, welcome death. Unfortunately, the chant is not only unfunny, but patently racist. As such, it has garnered outsized attention in the football media, and has spurred much discussion among Manchester United supporters.
Let us not mince our words here. The song is not “a bit of banter.” Whether it is meant to be malicious is besides the point. Whether or not you, reader, find it personally offensive is besides the point. Whether or not the subject of the song, Lukaku himself, has weighed in or not is besides the point. The song is racist. It is racist because it plays up a centuries-old racist stereotype about the size of black men’s penises.
It is a racist because it plays into a centuries-old racist practice of reducing black people to nothing more than the size and shape of their body parts. It is racist because it is willfully dismissive of just how dangerous the hyper-sexualization of black bodies has been, throughout history. Reducing black men to nothing more than their virility and masculinity and physical prowess is a concept that can be traced back to chattel slavery, and it’s a racist idea that has a real cost: in years and years of stolen dignity and spilled blood.
Sadly, but predictably, the most common response to the backlash against the chant has been to deny that it is offensive at all. I don’t see the big deal - It’s meant to be a compliment! The song is just having a having a bit of fun! It’s PC gone mad! There are much worse songs that have been sung in the past!
Garbage!— Martin Coombes (@padster1979) September 19, 2017
Alot of football chants are a bit of a laugh as is this one.
Nothing "racist" about it...
It takes a certain degree of arrogance and audacity - both rooted in white privilege - to believe that a person who is not affected by racism should get to define what constitutes it. The burden then, falls on the very same group of people who are most likely to be hurt by racist stereotypes. In this case, those black United supporters who find the chant to be offensive must also now do the work of explaining why this particular stereotype can be damaging. They must bear the burden of the racism, and then do the work of the unaffected and intellectually lazy who cry foul.
For many who complain about political correctness, it is more often than not a flimsy argument that amounts to “Why can I no longer have a laugh at the expense of causing someone else pain, like the good ol’ days?”
Of course there is far worse racism in football. Other clubs and other leagues are more egregious offenders, as many United fans have been in a rush to point out. And United fans themselves have sung worse. The Ji Sung Park song from a few years back was vile and cringeworthy, and with any luck, this new Lukaku song will be consigned to the bin along with it. We should be learning from those mistakes, not using them as context to justify new ones.