A Guest Post by The Outraged Punters
[Content Warning: Racism, blackface]
Last Thursday we received information that the Stirling Uni Men’s Football Team, as part of an official club social to ‘celebrate the African Cup of Nations’, were applying blackface to themselves before they went out. Pictures posted on the Facebook page of local bar Cape confirmed this, showing several members of the team in blackface within. With all the confirmation we needed right there on the internet we decided to take our camera phones and get down to Cape to catch them in the act. When we reached Cape, we saw members of the team clearly in blackface and behaving really respectably, jumping on furniture and being extremely loud, conduct that would have gotten anyone else instantly barred from any pub they tried it in. One of our group took a look inside and discovered that they were being given the run of the pub. Things quickly got heated when we questioned two members of the team as to whether they knew that what they were doing was incredibly racist and insensitive. Following a heated discussion outside with those members of the team, we were confronted by more of them spilling out after hearing raised voices outside. Things very quickly got violent, with one of our group recording video evidence of an attempted assault upon him, for filming the team members in blackface. We let the team know that what they were doing was racist and we were confronted with denials that it was, as well as attempts to defend their racism.
The team then began advancing on us rapidly, with threatening language being used towards us, as well as one of our group being headbutted by a member of the football team. We had to flee the scene and from a large gang of the players for our own safety, as they had already displayed that they were willing to get violent. After reaching the top of Friars Street we noticed a group of black men handing out flyers for a nightclub in Stirling, upon seeing this many members of the team who were in pursuit, except two, decided to hang back. One of these members of the team (the same one that assaulted one of our group) posed a question to these men as to whether they thought that their blackface was offensive or not. A member of local student TV station AirTV was filming the interaction and after noticing this the member of the team knocked the phone he was filming with out of his hand and then assaulted him. Student newspaper The Brig got quotes from the member of Air TV as well as from the bouncer on duty at the door of the Wetherspoons who called it ‘blatant assault’
The University later released a statement explaining that they have a zero tolerance policy towards racism and suspended XI’s three through six pending investigation, with members of the first and second team not receiving a suspension. The University has not given a reason as to why this is the case. Stirling University has a history with sports team scandals and being absolutely cack-handed in dealing with them. In 2013 a video of the men’s hockey team singing disgustingly sexist songs on public transport spread through social media and made international news. The team was punished with a suspension from playing hockey for the rest of the university year. The University’s faculty isn’t exempt from accusations of racism either, with student Wondimu Mekkonen being made homeless during the course of his PhD, the details of which are available here.
Special sub-wanker menshies for both Cape Stirling and Fubar Stirling, who did not reply to members of our group’s requests for comment as to why they allowed the team in. Stirling’s Wetherspoons told them to get tae, as they should have done.
To the members of the team and anyone else reading who claim to not know why blackface is offensive, here it is, courtesy of Show Racism The Red Card, who told the Tab:
The practice of blacking up was usually as part of a show by white entertainers for white audiences which relied on mocking black people’s skin colour and culture; the practice is racist and should definitely be avoided in our more enlightened times.
Trying to excuse this as ‘boys will be boys’ or blame it on ‘lad culture’ completely ignores the effects of embedded racism on our society and how it damages people of colour, effectively erasing their experiences and history. When Scotland’s wealth is just as built upon the British Empire’s legacy of slavery and genocide as any other colonial state it is impossible to dismiss this as harmless fun. Texts sent between the players and posted on Instagram show them making a joke about the harmful stereotype of black men being well endowed, clearly showing them to have no problems with sexualising and reducing black men to the status of an object for entertainment.
Speaking of entertainment, here’s the President of Stirling Uni FC, asking Facebook the question he probably should have asked Google.
So what are they going to do about it?
The university will now be forced to decide whether to listen to a century’s worth of evidence that blacking up is intolerable, racist and inciteful behaviour or to accept the tales of some blacked up wee boys, that it was totes just top banter.
The standard defences, “we didn’t know” and “it doesn’t matter” don’t really hold water when you’re defending yourself against your educator and there have already been serious, violent consequences.
So nae joy to those whose last line of defence will be try to convince their Uni they’re just really fucking stupid, not racist. Maybe 4 entire football teams worth of men, educated in 21st Century Scotland, had never heard of racism but when you have a responsibility to ensure your students are protected from stonking bigotry and being swung for in the street, why take the risk?
If it looks like a racist, it acts like a racist and when challenged, it becomes violent like a racist…then it’s usually a racist (and probably a wanker you could do without in your bar, in your football team or on your campus).
We were told when we contacted the university and offered to speak to them that the university’s investigation would be swift, though its now Tuesday and we still haven’t been contacted. We hope the university’s policy of zero-tolerance towards racism isn’t just loud bellowing on a bus and that something is done soon.
If you are an outraged punter like us and want something to be done about this you should get in contact with the esteemed principal Gerry (he’s another WW all on his own) here and the newly elected president of the Stirling student’s union Andrew Kinnell here.
Pressure needs to be put on Stirling Uni to take a stand on this, we hope you let them know what you think.
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