John Barnes's speech on Liam Neeson and racism has a lot of people talking


Former footballer John Barnes has been praised for giving his view on actor Liam Neeson’s racism row.

Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time, the former England footballer once again defended Neeson after the actor told The Independent that he once walked around looking to “kill” a black man after someone close to him was raped.

Barnes said people must learn to have “honest conversations” about subconscious bias that he believes most people have.

We all discriminate and we have to admit it.

Why I’m happy to say that I discriminate unconsciously is because the environment that I’ve been brought up in shows me that and continues to show me that.

You read newspapers every day and you hear about Muslim terrorists and Nigerian gangs, and that gives you a negative impression of not just terrorists and of conmen or gangs, but also of Nigerians and Muslims. 

And this is the influence that society has on us, we can’t help the way we have been brought up.

He told the audience that it was important “to be able to have the conversation, rather than as soon as we mention anything say ‘you’re a racist, you discriminate, but we don’t".

We are influenced by our environment and the environment he came from, albeit from a Catholic and Protestant point of view, is ‘whoever the enemy is, we have to kill the enemy’.

The enemy at that particular time happened to be black, but it equally could have been English and he would have wanted to kill any Englishman.”

Many Twitter users praised Barnes for his articulate approach to such a complex and difficult issue.

H/T: Evening Standard

More: Liam Neeson: Fans 'disgusted and disappointed' over actor's defence of comments about desire to kill black man

The Conversation (0)