England cricketer Ollie Robinson is as much a racist today as he was nine years ago when he tweeted the most offensive racist and sexist comments, writes Mark Keohane. His tweets were not a mistake but a manifestation .
These are some of Robinson’s tweets, which resurfaced on the day of his Test debut.
‘My new Muslim friend is the bomb’.
‘I wonder if Asian people put smileys like this¦) #racist’.
‘Guy next to me on the train definitely has Ebola’.
‘#wheeyyyyy; ‘Real n—– don’t let the microwave hit 0:00’.
‘Wash your fingers for the mingers #cuban’.
Robinson has been suspended from the England team pending an investigation.
The player, once the tweets were shared on social media, read a prepared statement, in which he said that he had made a mistake and was embarrassed and ashamed, but the question remains is he embarrassed and ashamed that the tweets have resurfaced or that he consciously made a decision to volunteer these disgusting thoughts to the world on social media?
The mistake he talks about: is it that of showing the world that he is a racist and sexist or is it by no means a mistake that he is a racist?
Robinson’s thoughts, based on conscious behaviour, are disgusting. He was 18 years-old at the time. There are five extreme examples of the extent of his prejudice and racism. He has attacked Muslim, Asian and Black on three different occasions.
This is not a mistake and it certainly is not a once-off example of his state of mind.
Robinson did not offer up a statement to say that when he was 18 years-old he tweeted things that he now knows to be racist, sexist and prejudice. He did not offer an insight into a nine year journey that made him realise the extent of his racism and prejudice. He did not say that it was engrained in his psyche that Muslim and bombs are a package, that any person who is black must have Ebola and that anyone who is Asian is to be abused on a public forum, be it in anger or through distasteful and inappropriate attempts at humour.
No, what Robinson offered when he read a statement, in which he bumbled through the words and certainly did not take stock of those words, was a public relations exercise in damage control.
The question is what is different to Ollie Robinson today, aside from the fact that he was forced into a public apology because his tweets resurfaced?
Does he look at Black, Asian, Muslim & Hispanic people and think ‘person, human being, equal’?
Robinson did not address what motivated his tweets. Were they because he is a product of a schooling system, a class system or because of prejudiced thinking in his upbringing?
Robinson’s response read: ‘I am embarrassed by the racist and sexist tweets that I posted over eight years ago, (sic) which have today become public. I want to make it clear that I’m not racist and I’m not sexist, and I deeply regret my actions, and I am ashamed of making such remarks.’
The simple question is that if he is not racist and not sexist, then why did he take it upon himself to create such tweets? A further question, if he is so embarrassed by the racists and sexist tweets, why did he publicly promote such racism and sexism on social media on several occasions?
The embarrassment Robinson is feeling is that the tweets are now in the media because of his profile, having just become an England international cricketer.
The issue is his racism and sexism and not the England Cricket Board suspending him, pending an investigation. The temporary suspension won’t change the fact that he is a racist and a sexist, based on his tweets.
I was appalled by the English prime minister Boris Johnson calling Robinson’s tweets the ‘mistakes of a teenager’. What?
What about the victims in those tweets, the Blacks, the Asians, the Hispanics and the Muslims?
Johnson showed more interest in a white England cricketer and more urgency in making excuses for this white England cricketer than he ever has for any Black, Asian or Muslim victim of racial abuse and prejudice in Britain.
Those queuing to defend Robinson’s actions as being the mere folly of a naïve 18 year-old seriously have to do some reflection, if all they are seeing is a white England cricketer whose sporting career could be compromised because of what they believe was a mistake.
Cape Town based cricket columnist Ryan Vrede described Johnson, the United Kingdom’s Sports Minister Oliver Dowden and media personality Piers Morgan’s defence of Robinson as the ‘absurdity of middle-aged, conservative white men weighing in on issues of racial, sexual or religious discrimination is very striking.’
Vrede concluded: ‘More perplexing is that their focus is how Robinson’s ban has affected/will affect the perpetrator of the acts of discrimination, rather than the effect Robinson’s words had on his targets.’
Amen, Mr Vrede.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain was another who defended Robinson on the basis of his tweets being the mistake of an 18 year-old.
‘I’ve read the tweets, I’ve seen the tweets, they are horrible,’ said Hussain, but I also think we are a cruel society if we don’t realise that an 18 year-old does make mistakes and he has made mistakes and he’s made it horribly wrong and he’s front up.’
Robinson hasn’t fronted up. He read a prepared statement, lacking in tone and in sincerity. Unlike his very deliberate tweets, Robinson was not the author of the statement telling the world he was not a racist and sexist.
Racism and sexism aren’t mistakes and Robinson did not make a mistake.
‘We can’t have an honest reckoning about race until we start to recognise all the ways in which privilege and prejudice creep into our lives,’ said author and digital strategist Luvvie Ajayi.
The words ‘honest reckoning’ are powerful because there has been no ‘honest reckoning’ in the case of Robinson.
There has been only the reinforcement of his privilege, and to quote Ajayi, being able to live without having to be defined by your skin colour is the hallmark of privilege.
Robinson is privileged and he has been treated with privilege.