FORMER national football captain Kenwyne Jones believes that racism is taught and that the only way to defeat it is through education of the young and re-education of older persons.
Jones comments came during an online discussion forum on the theme ‘sport for social justice’ which took place a week ago on Futsal868, the Facebook website of the Trinidad and Tobago Futsal Association.
The panel consisted of Futsal Association president Geoffrey Edwards; Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Association (TTOC) president Brian Lewis; Ken McCue, from Sport Against Racism Ireland; ex-English Premiership footballer Jones; and social media influencer Keevan Lewis. Jones touched on issues of race and explored some solutions to social injustices that exist everyday in society.
“People are taught racism. You are not born with it,” Jones declared.
“If you are taught not to dislike anybody, you would not do it. You would like everybody, because you would have qualities you would like from Tom, Dick, Harry, green, black, blue, whatever” the former English Premiership footballer said.
“But if you were taught by someone to stay away from a black person and black people are violent... stay away from Indian people because Indian people are not nice...stay away from white people. Of course, you are going to, from the time that you are a child, develop concepts in your head.”
Jones said the choices he has made, both as child and adult stemmed from values parents instilled and also what he was taught in school.
“I was never taught about racial indifference. During school I had Indian friends, black friends, white friends, Chinese friends, however many different races it had in Trinidad, I had those friends,” Jones pointed out.
The former T&T captain said that even when upset, he had never made race an issues when having a disagreement with someone. “I was not taught it and I never express it. Even to this day. No matter whatever,” he noted.
Jones said there are those who practise racism, some who are victims of racism and other who are indifferent to it. He felt some people never identify racism because privilege allow them not to have experienced it. He cited recent local examples. Therefore some people are untouched by the equal justice movement sweeping across the world.
Jones said that change would come only through education. “It is going to be down to education of the younger ones and the re-education of and reprogramming of the people who are already set in their ways. It is a tough job, but it has to happen we will continue down this slippery slope that we are going,” he lamented.
Admitting to having faced racism himself, Jones said people need to stand up against inequality. However, many are still in a ‘single individual mindset’ and are often are scared to act out of fear of losing popularity and economic prosperity. He believes players who stand up for the cause, do so largely because of their experiences. He urged persons in position of influence to “be the change that you want to see”.
But it takes courage. “Those that can affect change need to use the courage that you have to stand again or go against the grain... to swim upstream like the salmon,” said Jones, adding, “The great things about us athletes, in whatever sport, is that you have a platform to try and drive that change.”