The former England footballer John Barnes has claimed that authors such as Agatha Christie and Rudyard Kipling have helped turn Britain into a nation of “passive racists”, as Nick Britten reports in this article in London’s Telegraph.
Barnes said books including “Ten Little Indians”, “Tarzan of the Apes” and “The Jungle Book” have instilled bigotry into the minds of generations.
The former Liverpool winger said the “inherent” racism meant that white people tended to resist having black neighbours.
And he called for a teaching plan that would make teaching about the non-existence of race as a concept to made central to the national curriculum.
Barnes, who was born in Jamaica, said: “Passive racism is inherent in all of us and the way we feel about a group of people is based on what we have been told for 200 years.
“As a product of that, over the last 200 years we have had negative images of black people, which featured in literature by Rudyard Kipling to Agatha Christie.
“Tarzan showed that.
“Racism came from the idea of race, which is a man-made construct. Race is not scientific or genetic. It does not actually exist.
“Race came about to validate and justify colonialism and slavery.”
Barnes was born in Jamaica and moved to live in England at the age of 13, when his father was Jamaica’s military attache to London in the late 1970s.
He remains England’s most-capped black player but in during the 1980s in his career at Liverpool, he suffered a torrent of racist abuse from the terraces, including having bananas thrown at him.
He made the attack on classic literature in a lecture to students at Liverpool University entitled “What is the cause of racism in football?”
Barnes 48, told the audience that racism exists because of “preconceived ideas” that are planted through books and films that validate colonial prejudices.
He added: “Passive racism might be seen in someone choosing to live next to a white person and that’s the racism we have to get rid of.
“If we get rid of passive racism then overcoming overt racism will take care of itself.
“The majority of racism which goes on is unconscious – people do not even think about it. By letting people understand they are passive racists will help tackle it.”
Barnes, who lives on the Wirrall, Merseyside, has become a regular contributor to debates about racism in football. Earlier this year, he took part in an Anti Racism Football Summit at Downing Street which looked at racism in football. A supporter of legislation to clear up the “ambiguity” over what is considered discrimination, he believes that racism will never be eradicated from football as long as it exists in society.