John Terry and everyone else are ‘unconscious racists’ says John Barnes

Brooks Peck
September 28, 2012

Two months after a court of law found Chelsea captain John Terry not guilty of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand last season, an independent commission with a lower burden of proof has found Terry guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, resulting in a four-match ban and £220,000 fine from the FA. While Terry awaits the full written reasoning behind the decision before he considers appealing the decision, there is no shortage of opinions on the matter.

Former Liverpool and England player John Barnes has offered a more pragmatic conclusion than most, saying that John Terry isn't a racist, but he is an "unconscious racist." Which Barnes says most everyone is, including himself.

From the Independent:

"I would never, ever say John Terry is a racist, but I would say John Terry is no more or less racist than anyone else. I actually have a bit of empathy with John Terry. Ninety-nine per cent of us, me included, are unconscious racists, because we have an opinion on someone based on history, what we have seen, and what we've seen on television.

"If a man turned up in a turban to manage Liverpool when I was playing for them, I would question him. If a white German, who I've never met, turned up to manage Liverpool I'll question him — but not as much as I would question the man with the turban based on the fact that 'he's from India — so what does he know?'

"People say things without realising. I've had this discussion with a lot of old players from Liverpool and they all say, 'I never called anyone a black this or black that.' I understand that because people do not even realise they are doing it. If John Terry did it I think he probably would not even remember doing it where a conscious racist would remember."

Well, I suppose Barnes deserves some credit for being honest about his own biases, although in doing so one might question just how unconscious those biases are. It's also unclear what opinions about others "based on history" would have to do with the Terry-Ferdinand situation, but this point was far more interesting than those espoused by 99 percent of the other pundits out covering this.