More Sticks And Stones!

More Sticks And Stones!

Like the majority of the UK´s male, working class, of my generation, I was born into a household that worshipped sport. The sport we worshipped most was football and the greatest player on earth during my childhood years was a Brazilian called Pele. Boxing, for all its contradictions and bent decisions, was another sport that enthralled us and we grew up captivated by the greatest of them all, Muhammad Ali.

To this day, and despite the overwhelming commercial aspects that converge too much, I am still fascinated by sport and will certainly be glued to events in London during the upcoming Olympics, wishing all the time that I could witness with my own eyes Usain Bolt whizz past me on his way to a most probable gold.

All in all then I guess you could say that I grew up with an ever present and on going dialogue that pretty much centered on sport and eventually rock music. When neither of those was being debated there was always politics of course.

The idealism of Gandhi and Martin Luther King was no stranger to us, neither was the struggle that they endured. As a result I was all too aware, and even at a fairly young age, of the tragedy that prevailed in those parts of the world where human beings could be legally humiliated and all because of the colour of their skin.

Skimming through the previous sentences I wonder if you noticed that none of the names I mentioned were women? That was not because I was brought up not to appreciate the strength of women. I was. It is more to do with the fact that it was seemingly much more “a man´s world” back in those days. Notice please, that I use the word seemingly. Reality is sometimes something else altogether.

Notice too perhaps, that none of the men mentioned are of white skin. And following on, why is that important to me today you might ask?

Well, today as I look forward to more international football from the current Euro championships being played out in Poland and Ukraine, it is difficult to not be aware of the volume of media stories that claim that various black players are being picked out by some fans for a special kind of abuse, and once again it is all shamefully because of the colour of their skin. Uh, how very depressing, really! Tiring, sickening, please call it as you want.

I was of course brought up in a `white world´. Only white people lived in my neighbourhood. Only white kids were in my class at school. Arguably we were all the same, except when in some instances we were not. I, for example, was the one in my primary school class who was different and I occasionally paid the price for it by being humiliated by some others who would never let me forget that I had a rather obvious stammer when I spoke.

Was it really that much of problem? Not really, especially as I could speak perfectly well with my fists and I guess word must have got round that I could handle myself ok enough. Might not have been Gandhi, or indeed the Dalai Llama´s chosen mode of resistance to bullies, but neither of them – bless them – went to primary school in the south side of Glasgow and almost certainly had it not been the case, I think I would have suffered much more.

Bullies must be stood up to always, and ways no matter how difficult, must be found. That is as important to me now as much as ever!

Jim Kerr