The "N" Word: Does Language Matter?
by Keshree on October 28, 2014 - 8:47pm
THE “N” WORD: DOES LANGUAGE MATTER?
In the article “Luis Suarez: Ban for Patrice Evra racism row unfair and a 'stain' on my character that will be there forever”, the author reports Luis Suarez’s reaction to his eight-game ban for using the word negro. The football player relates how he feels that he was unfairly punished for using said word while he was arguing with Patrice Evra during a match between Liverpool and Manchester United. According to Suarez he was misrepresented by Liverpool and its representatives. He maintains that the argument was in Spanish and that the word “negro” has a different meaning in Spanish than it has in English and that he absolutely did not mean to sound racist, which he is not. However, the FA disciplinary committee is not convinced. According to them, Suarez used the word “negro” at least seven times and even said “I don’t talk to blacks” at one point.
I think that Mr. Suarez is completely missing the point of why he is being accused of racism in the first place. I understand that the word “negro” does not have the same meaning in Spanish as it has in English. But it is the fact that he was calling Patrice Evra “black” and using it in a denigrating manner that made the FA disciplinary committee punish him. Suarez seems to think that, just because “negro” in Spanish does not have as bad of a connotation as in English, it means that it is okay to use it in Spanish. But as someone in my class once said, being called “brown” in Spanish did not make them feel less bad than if they had been called the same in English. It does not really matter what language the word is being used in because the word “negro” has negative connotations in both languages. Suarez is only trying to make himself seem like the victim in this situation by shifting the blame from himself to the FA disciplinary committee’s inability to understand that he was speaking in Spanish. He is not the victim here, he is the perpetrator. Can you imagine how Evra may have felt being told “I don’t talk to blacks”? I doubt he felt any better about the fact that Suarez was speaking in Spanish. It must have felt just as hurtful. We need to ask ourselves two questions: Do we still perceive racism as strongly when it is in another language than English or French? Should we?
Telegraph Sport. (2014). Luis Suarez: Ban for Patrice Evra racism row unfair and a 'stain' on my character that will be there forever. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/players/luis-suarez/11189391/Luis-Suarez-Ban-for-Patrice-Evra-racism-row-unfair-and-a-stain-on-my-character-that-will-be-there-forever.html. (27 October 2014)
 “they” is used to protect the person’s identity.