John Barnes explains why he never let racism affect him
A very interesting chat...
On this week's episode of Ireland Unfiltered, Dion Fanning was joined by former footballer John Barnes. The pair discussed the real reason behind Brexit, his father as his hero, and he also spoke openly about why he never let racism bother him when he was growing up.
Growing up middle class in the upscale region of Mayfair, London, Barnes explained why his lifestyle never allowed discriminatory comments to bring him down.
"I felt fully empowered so therefore it never affected me," he said. "Whether they use to do it and I’d be talking about, 'Well they can’t be talking about me.'
"You know, I’m a middle class kid who lived in Mayfair with my parents and my dad’s a military attache and we’ve got a chauffeur and stuff like that so they can’t be talking about me if they want to."
Barnes' outlook on life and his acknowledgement of his privileges meant he felt superior to any racial bias. For him, race and skin tone were never the standing ground for superiority. "I consider those people to be ignorant. I feel superior to them. I’m living in Highgate in a house that’s worth a million pounds. Where do they live?
"You know they’re getting on a bus to go to their - to go home and you know they’re living in a council estate and probably haven’t even got a job. How can they feel superior to me? So the whole black-white dynamic of the superiority of one group of people over the other - I never felt that at all."
Despite developing a thick skin to racially biased comments, Barnes still recognises that his experience of privilege and resilience is not a common story. His career and lifestyle enabled him to be "elevated out of blackness" and accepted as a black man in society.
According to Barnes, those around him remain racist until they can view the average black man on the street the same way they view him. "For me, I always knew that even if I’m accepted and they love me, I knew that even my teammates and even other people who said that they love me would look at the average black person and discriminate against them.
"So I understood the nature of it. I understood the fact that this is the way it is because they can elevate me as John Barnes out of blackness but how do they view the average black man in the street?"
You can check out the full episode below: