Alan Sugar and his fans still think this is banter in 2018

Other | Sunday 24th June 2018 | Osh

As the world comes together in what should be a unifying sporting celebration, the man who brought us Katie Hopkins, one of Britain’s most outspoken businessmen Alan Sugar has been pushing free speech a step too far and like the disaster that is Brexit half of the UK seem to think it’s cool.

Alan Sugar did not think his tweet comparing the Senegalese football team to people selling sunglasses on Marbella beach was racist.


His fans and followers can’t see the problem either. It must be easy for Britain's 95th richest man not to care. He has shown us all that he obviously does not have any black friends, not even that one black friend that some use to excuse their casual racism.

When you are white and privileged it’s easy to make a joke that “others” all look the same but if Alan Sugar did know a black person well, would he think it funny to compare them to unarmed 17 year old Antwon Rose shot dead by police last week (where). He could have just said they look like the refugees refused by Italy and Malta and stranded at sea.




It’s when you start saying “they all look the same” you start to think people are different than you. That’s when it’s ok to take kids from families, that’s when it’s ok to let boats sink at sea, that is when it's ok to send people to concentration camps.

It doesn’t matter which black people he had compared them to, it still would have been racist, wrong and not really funny. He should have felt equally uncomfortable making that joke on Twitter as he would in the presence of anyone black.

He would know that an ethnic minority may have had a hard time at school. Teachers and schools take actions or give marks based on similar stereotypical views. Black children face this all the time.

A black child may have worked extra hard because their parents had told them they have to work harder than white people to make it in this world, that people will expect that you can't do things that you can; that people will expect the worse of you, that when in shops, you may followed as if you are trying to steal something because you “look like” someone in the lowest form of employment or worse. Black children face this all the time.

What if  black child grew up and didn't believe his parents, made it through school by working hard, into university but then, when faced with police who stereotyped him, stopped and searched him on the way to work on suspicion of a crime for no other reason than the colour of his skin. Black children face this all the time.

Most black people have suffered from at least one of the above types of stereotyping and many have had ambitions of reaching difficult positions with a quite visible handicap that some with privilege seem not to notice.

Black people are a resilient, strong people. This happens with centuries of oppression. Many have learnt to deal with starting a few metres behind the starting line. Some rise to the top of their professions with determination, skill and hard work. For anyone to make it all the way up to world cup class football to represent their country, is a goal most could only dream of and a goal only the most resourceful of humans will ever reach.

It is hard to imagine, after such an accomplishment, not just getting to the world cup but winning their game that instead of hearing well deserved congratulations from an ex football club owner and pillar of British enterprise and empire, they hear the comment:

“I recognise some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multi tasking resourceful chaps.” Accompanied by a meme that you can see might be funny to people who did not actually enjoy school much themselves.

Comparing a picture of the black Senegalese team to any other black people is racist but the picture in question showed no sensitivity. How so? Well, it shows he has no idea, that as a black person, when you go away to a European beach like say Sardinia, were Alan is now which was once ruled by Moors (see the 4 black faces on the Sardinian flag) You can’t help but think about racism.

You see black men on the beach selling wares as one of the few roles for black people offered up by society and you think about racism. You know if it wasn’t for your designer shades and sandals and your command of the Queen's english language, small minded locals may mistake you for a beech peddler and you think about racism.

All you can think about is the structural and historical racism that caused these men to be in this position. You think about the centuries of systematic looting of Africa and you think about racism.

But on Twitter you hear the cries of “This is PC gone mad”

What many white privileged men fail to see is not just the disrespect to the Senegalese players, but also the disrespect to those men on the beach selling white people lame sunglasses and fake Gucci bags.

White people will only understand the absurdity of the joke if they see the privilege they have because of structures that required a lack of economic progress in countries these Africans come from.

As well as absolving themselves of any guilt, or acknowledging any advantages over these "beach sellers", white people who do not see the racism in Alan Sugar’s post will not see that the reason you find these guys on the beach, is down to the same prejudice that prevents these guys getting good legal jobs and living as equals.

These hard working, power walking hustlers take jobs that they can get, make money to survive and feed families. They live hard lives often working for people traffickers.

Alan Sugar may have worked his way up from the bottom on a market stall but he probably doesn't have the heart to work his way up from the bottom of society. He probably doesn’t get compared to random market stall traders either.

Let's just say he did. Let's say Alan Sugar had arrived as an immigrant on these lands and worked himself up to a man of international stature. Would he then see the buffoonery of someone comparing him to someone who works in one of the world's lowest forms of employment?

Money and privilege go to your head. First you forget about the price of milk, then you forget about the struggles of mankind. It's when you forget about the hard lives of other humans that you have lost a part of your soul. In some ways you are longer a real human.

We must remember that Lord Sugar is in the House of Lords. These attitudes affect the country we live in. He is paid by the BBC which ironically launched another diversity initiative on the same day as they accepted Lord Sugar's lackluster apology for his tweet. We pay for this shit.

Alan Sugar did apologise for the post, somewhat half heartedly. Even after his error was pointed out, he didn’t know what the fuss was about. What's depressing is the support his tweet got that lets you know the state of mind of some white people in the UK and world today. It's ok to be racist. To not be racist is PC gone too far.  

The whole issue is typical of the mental anguish that black people endure daily. If Alan Sugar knew he was adding to this anguish, I think he thinks of himself as a nice enough a guy, that he would have thought twice before tweeting it and made more of an apology.

Maybe the gravity of the situation will dawn on him as he realises that black people have to cope with these outdated attitudes from years gone by today and not just from the business world or from Twitter but from the publicly funded BBC and the House Of Lords. This is when it's hard to be proud to be British. 

So what is the answer? At the end of the day it is all about accepting responsibility for privilege and money. When the slave trade ended, slave owners were given the equivalent of millions of pounds, while slaves were given nothing but years of oppression, brutality and discrimination that can still be seen across the world today.

If Alan Sugar could accept responsibility, see that his "joke" did make life more unpleasant in general for brown people. (Which is a big fucking statement)  then maybe he might make up for it by giving a black person an opportunity. Then we will see how he feels if anyone is "disrespectful" to his new found friend. You have to see the struggle to understand it.

If there were reparations for black people it would close the racial wealth gap caused by centuries of antiquated "They all look the same" policies.

If humans were all on the same starting block... then... and only then, can we make a joke if some of us haven't made it yet. In the meantime... get yourself some black friends to keep you in check.

You may appreciate the humanity.