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Higgins off on racism

Published:Friday | May 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM


I can understand the pain Orville Higgins' article 'Black players, monkey chanting, and banana tossing' (Gleaner, May 5, 2014) has given to many readers. Of course, he's said all this before.

To him, someone whose character was formed in a society where he has never been subjected to the monumental humiliations that black people have experienced in majority white societies, the banana-throwing incident is laughable. To someone who has probably never visited a proper zoo, the term 'Give the monkey a banana!' does not resonate.

What is pitiful is that Higgins lacks empathy, if empathy is defined as the capacity to feel another's pain. Maybe he would admire the lushness of the vegetables grown at Majdanek, fertilised with the bonemeal made from its murdered inmates.

Racism has properly been defined as a system for the treatment of people in a racial category, however defined, as unworthy of respect, regard, and justice, and deserving of contempt, vilification, ridicule and sometimes death. It is exemplified in the way the Nazis treated Jews, the way the US treated blacks and Indians, and the way the Hutus treated Tutsis.

Our forbears had two cautionary proverbs for the guidance of people in Higgins' position:

1) Rockstone a' river bottom never know sun hot.

2) If alligator tell you say shark mumma ha' pickney, believe him!