Your skin colour is not good.
The job you want is unattainable because your skin is the wrong colour. Your partner’s family despises you because of the way you look. Children are told to cross the road, less they come into contact with ‘you,’ someone who is considered abnormal.
I have some experience with the above and I can tell you it’s awful.
It feels awful when a slur is directed your way. Being called a ‘Paki’ when my family was actually from India hurt. Clarifying the difference felt even worse. Why am I justifying myself to a bigot?
That’s why I have time for Sol Campbell’s argument. In his autobiography, Campbell believes his race kept him from becoming England’s captain.
“I think the FA wished I was white. I had the credibility, performance-wise, to be captain,” he said, in an excerpt released by the Sunday Times.
“I don’t think it will change because they don’t want it to, and probably the majority of fans don’t want it, either [...] There is a ceiling and although no one has ever said it, I believe it’s made of glass.”
Campbell’s statement has been met with considerable backlash from former England managers and players.
“I never had any influence on me to select who should be captain, regardless of the colour of his skin,” said Graham Taylor, the former manager of the national team.
“I don’t think Sol would have been captain for 10 years because if you look at who the captains were – Tony Adams and then after that Alan Shearer,” said John Barnes, a former teammate of Jamaican descent. ”Then David Beckham became captain and that was a PR exercise for the FA. I don’t think necessarily it was because of the colour of Sol’s skin.”
Sven-Goran Eriksson, who selected Campbell for his teams 32 times, said there was “not a chance” he was pressured into not selecting the former Arsenal and Tottenham man.
More cynical fans believe Campbell’s claims originated from his desire to sell copies of his book. Sir Alex did it, why not Sol?
We would be naive to not consider that possibility, but it’s a hell of a claim to make. The idea that someone is not being genuine about something like this is, in itself, terrible.
I will give him the benefit of the doubt. And though it’s very possible people like Taylor, Barnes and Eriksson are right, that doesn’t change the major underlying issue: Campbell felt his race was a hindrance on his professional career. Whether it actually was remains to be seen, but it’s important to recognize that he felt that way. That matters.
There is a reason organizations like ‘Kick It Out’ exist. No matter how far we advance as a sum of people, there remains a sect of hate-filled bullies.
The reaction to Campbell’s comments was telling. Those willing to have an actual conversation on the matter are helping us advance the situation in the positive direction.
He may be wrong, but hear Sol out.