I’m not black. It’s something I’ve come to terms with over the years. Many hours huddled over an old tape machine working out what James Brown was saying haven’t altered the hue of my dermis one iota. I have, however, been the victim of racial abuse. My time living amongst the Catalans of Eastern Spain was spent mainly pouring drinks and waiting tables and, to a small degree, ducking flying dog pooh and watching my underwear burn on the washing line. The locals were happy for me to serve them food and drinks as long as I didn’t look at any women or make eye contact with any of the big fat patriarchs. I was spat at and, on several occasions, had pool water flicked at me by a local boy while his father looked from beyond his obesity and smiled with whimsical pride. It inspired me to work my way through a host of covert ‘relations’ with the local females like the local tap water worked its way through me- quickly, quietly and with no intention of producing anything solid. I also became far less likely to develop testicular cancer throughout that time as I would check myself thoroughly several times a day just prior to arranging the food of those engorged and ignorant patriarchs.

In that particular area there is a large and proud nazi movement- I would say ‘underground’ nazi movement but it was about as well hidden as the London Eye. [You’ll notice I have refused to give it a capital ‘N’- I don’t do it with the ‘G’ of god so these shaved fools can whistle!] Local boys, preparing for their national service, would sit at the bar practicing their hitler salutes and showing off any nazi memorabilia they managed to buy like I used to show off my football stickers. We had a black cook at the time, she was North African and looked like she possessed a cartoon cat and a fear of mice. She was told to stay out of sight because the locals would eat elsewhere if they knew their food had been prepared by a ‘black devil’ for fear they would explode into flames or their penises would wilt and fall off from the poison she secreted through her every pore. I used to hug her whenever any of them ventured round the back to retrieve the drugs or porn mags they kept by the bins away from their catholic fathers.

Eventually, they put black and white together and got ‘food poisoning’, or at least enough of an accusation of it that she was dismissed and they returned to sit and gloat and wheeze in their sweaty, dated ways and I had to develop a itchy sphincter and a penchant for elasticated waistbands.

Prior to Spain, I had hated racism for purely moral reasons. It was all about fairness and equality and rights. My time there showed me the real face of racism though and that was just plain and simple ignorance.

Now, we’re all ignorant of many things- appropriate punctuation in my case? But this is different, this is intentional and that’s what makes it so nasty. To choose not to understand something, or someone, for no reason other than the sure knowledge that it will upset your comfy little existence, is the act of a coward. It’s the kind of ignorance that you have you really want, and the only thing that makes someone work that hard is fear.

Fast forward to the present day and we finally have the two reasons I’m telling you all this: an argument and a caddie.

The caddie should need no introduction if you’ve been reading the papers lately… but I’ll tell you anyway. Tiger Woods’ former caddie, Steve Williams called him a ‘black ——-‘. I’ve written it like that because that’s how the press printed it but there isn’t a nickel-plated cheque book and pen up for grabs so don’t bother working out the second word. It’s the first word that’s the problem and it’s a problem that I was arguing about just a week before this incident made the headlines. I’ve argued the same point on various internet forums since too because of allegations against footballers and their use of the same word.

I’m not here to explain what’s wrong with racism in general because everyone knows that- even the racists. Even Terre Blanche would look away or find an imaginary bogey when confronted by the sheer illogicality of his views like a creationist in the Natural History museum. I’m here to explain a very specific point. Here’s what has been asked of me recently in various forms:
“Why is it racist to call someone a black ‘anything’ when they are, in fact, actually black and don’t consider being referred to as black an insult?”

The first person I argued with about this had started by asking why he couldn’t call ‘them’ niggers because, ‘if they can call it each other then why can’t we?’ And I had to pipe the definition of ‘context’ into his brain like an asthmatic inflating a bouncy castle. More recent, and more considered, views have been along the lines of, “But it’s not racist to call a black person ‘black’!”

Greg Norman, who’s nickname is, I’m sure, just a reference to his predatory golfing style, has said that Williams isn’t a racist. He said that Williams thought he was in a ‘restricted environment’ when he made the kind of ‘stupid comment’ we all make from time to time, and that ‘far heavier’ things were said that night. Well that’s cleared that up, thanks Greg… except, ignoring the fact that, in just the same way a falling tree will ALWAYS make a noise regardless of who’s listening, a word retains it’s meaning regardless of where it is said or to whom and should never be judged based on the relative ‘weight’ of other comments, as if it’s ok to punch someone as long as they’re already being stabbed in the kidneys by someone else. And not even mentioning the fact that ‘we’ don’t all make comments like that from time to time, there is just one thing I’d like to pick you up on.

He is a racist.

This isn’t my opinion, it’s a fact gleaned from precisely the thing he did.
It’s like when family and friends of murderers are interviewed and they say, “He’s just a regular bloke, he’s not a murderer.” Well, I’m sorry but that murder he just committed kind of means he is. I don’t care if he spent his childhood helping old ladies cross roads and healing sick puppies. It’s not a political viewpoint, it’s not a personality trait. It’s a definition of someone who murders.

Now I’m not, for a second, comparing Williams racism to murder, I’m just pointing out that if one does a thing, intentionally and without external pressures to do so, then one becomes a doer of that thing.

So, back to the big question- why does dropping ‘black’ into an insult to someone who is black make you a racist in the first place?

It boils down to this: When we are insulting someone, we are choosing words that WE consider derogatory. It’s what insults are made of, words that demonstrate what WE consider to be bad about the other person. If you were having a blazing row with someone called Dave you wouldn’t say, “You stupid person called Dave!” Because it would be a ridiculous insult. Being called Dave isn’t a bad thing to anyone, even you who hate his guts, so you would never consider including it. More pertinently, I’ve been called everything you can imagine by some very nasty people but I’ve never been called a ‘white’ anything. Why? Because I’ve never been insulted by anyone who considers being white to be a bad thing and, therefore, worthy of inclusion in their little list of what makes me lesser than them. Even those pointless little Spanish Nazis couldn’t hate my colour because it was the same as theirs so ‘black’ becomes ‘English’ or just ‘foreign’. Anything really that they weren’t and which, therefore, according to the rules that help them sleep at night, must be shit.

Tiger woods has any number of qualities Williams could have picked out. Qualities that are personal to only him but it was the colour of his skin- something he shares with millions of people and that it is physically impossible to use to upset someone, that Williams decided to open with.

Calling someone a ‘black’ something when you’re insulting them is saying that being black is a bad thing to be. It’s the same as calling someone a ‘stupid’ something or a ‘heartless’ something or an ‘ignorant’ something and yet it’s a lot worse. Worse because people, as individuals, can be stupid, heartless and ignorant and they are bad things to be. These insults are based on the actions of the individual and reflect your personal view of them.
Nobody told Williams to use the word and he could have chosen any other but he felt that it was what he considers bad about Tiger Woods. He made a racist remark intentionally, and without external pressures to do so… which makes him a maker of racist remarks… otherwise known as…