By Ornette D. Clennon
Tuesday, August 7, 2012.
people and the F.A find the term ‘choc ice’ racist and offensive but not the
acquitted televised ‘ironic’ rantings of another footballer, as a
country we really are in what I hope is a temporary state of confusion
(code for trouble with a capital T) about our rich multi ethnic
‘choc ice’ debacle, if we’re not careful will become a symbol for our
national reluctance to discuss race openly and rationally. As a nation,
many of us seem loathe to address our colonial past and through the back
breaking (and sometimes life ending) work of its former colonies, a
past that put the ‘Great’ in Great Britain (and Northern Ireland).
fact, it is precisely our post colonial present which makes our country
one of the most ethnically diverse and tolerant in the world and I’m
not even talking about the significant ethnic and devolution-making
dynamics between our four kingdoms; an incredibly important part of our
multi ethnic history in the first place.
our recent colonial past did not leave with us without a
sometimes-unpleasant aftertaste of postcolonial racism (and I am sure
the other kingdoms would recognise elements of this in relation to the
perceived denigration of their cultures).
here we are, as actors on our most high profile and arguably the most
influential cultural stage (platform) we have in this country; namely
Football. It is on this stage that the debate about race and its
inherent historical narratives are played out.
is as though, as a nation we were no longer able to hold our tongues
and we needed to voice our deep seated, hidden concerns about race, as
stirred up by recent visible immigration and economic
turbulence/decline. So, taking audience participation to the next level,
we chose the national theatre of Football to air our concerns and
fears, or perhaps with the line of events,
bid for the rights to stage this sometimes, Shakespearian tragic farce.
What is wrong with that? Some people will ask. My answer to them is
simply, ‘choc ice’.
elevate ‘choc ice’ to the level of pernicious racial abuse whilst
ignoring John Terry ‘s acquittal and Blatter’s handshake comments
amongst a litany of other race related incidents, shows that this
particular arena is ill equipped to examine and reflect upon issues of
racial discrimination both overt and more dangerously, covert, in that
it fails to recognise the not so nuanced distinction between one term
that encapsulates the feeling of betrayal and lack of solidarity against
oppression as opposed to the other that is a vehicle for the said
I am being naive and condescending to think that this arena and its
vocal proponents are intellectually ill equipped to distinguish between
different types of race-related comments and equally unable to track the
historical narratives behind them.
might say that I do them a great disservice. If I agree that I am being
condescending to such people, it leads me to an even more unpleasant
conclusion that such apparently willful ignorance is actually a ruse
designed to obstruct or deflect intelligent debate about racism.
ruse designed to keep the masses (as symbolised by the arena of
Football) in a state of ignorance about the power dynamic between the
political (ethnic) majority and the political (ethnic) minority. There
seems to be a plan to keep the status quo at all costs by elevating knee
jerk ‘choc ice’ reactions above the material issues of deep seated and
damaging racism in our national consciousness, as expressed in our
national sporting outlet.
‘status quo’ I mean, a position where we do not seem able to fairly
address issues of tolerance, respect and protection of our minorities
without pernicious ridicule using displays of unthinking ignorance about
legitimate concerns. I have not even addressed the legal ruling of the
moment that appears to be one national institution upholding the gate
keeping duties of another in maintaining the current status quo of
indifferent race relations. I suppose the ‘choc ice’ as a mascot
brilliantly represents those on all sides who wish to dismantle our
great diversity, rendering us a nation, powerless and fallen akin to a
By Dr Ornette D Clennon, is a lecturer and Research Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University
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