Saturday, December 20, 2008

Racism part II

A couple of years ago, I went to the States. Whilst there, we went to a college American Football game. I've always liked American Football. It's like rugby without the mud. I've always wanted to go to a proper game, and not having enough money to see an NFL game, I found out about a big college game in the Atlanta stadium that only cost $20.

The game started at 2pm, but the ticket office opened at 10am, so we were there waiting in line (well, actually first in line) at 8.30am to make sure we could buy our tickets.

We were quite happily chatting with people as they turned up to buy tickets. There was the student lawyer and her husband (I never found out what he did), the 19 year old just out of juvie for assault (his older brother was inside for attempted murder in the same attack), his girlfriend and her male "friend" (another assault coming up perhaps), and the middle aged mother of six. We whiled away a lovely hour chatting with all of them - they were obviously charmed by my british accent, politeness and dazzling wit (or it may just have been my good looks) - before buying the tickets and wandering off into the pre-game funfair and tailgate party.

And what a party! I couldn't see the edges of it. There were funfair rides, beer tents, barbecues and hog roasts, advertising stands for Ford, Chrysler, GM, all showing a number of cars, a recruitment stand for the US Army (and they tried very hard to recruit me - must be desperate), and lots of other marquees, tents, pick-ups and souvenir stands left, right and centre.

We spent 4 hours wandering around all the stands, rides and beer tents before heading into the stadium itself. A bit of a sore point was that we weren't allowed to take our water bottle in with us. Its quite hot down in Atlanta, especially for someone far more suited to an English climate, so the loss of the water was a cruel blow. I would have to rehydrate with beer!

So we went in, found our seats and settled down for the pre-game show, battle of the bands, cheerleader show, and pre-game announcements.

And it was these announcements that triggered it. The game was being sponsored by the 100 black men of Atlanta, a title that I immediately thought would be too politically incorrect for the UK, followed immediately by the thought that actually, no, it wouldn't be un-PC, only the opposite would.

Then it hit me. I had spent the last five or six hours in a crowd of over 100,000 people, and only when it was virtually pointed out to me did I realise that we had the only two white faces in that crowd of 100,000 black people. Whats more, in a game dubbed the "Super Bowl of Black College Football" – a reference to its notoriety and attendance.

Not only do I not care about what colour people are, I don't even notice.

In what way does that make me racist?

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