OPINION

Antetokounmpo and racism

antetokounmpo-and-racism

Greece has a problem with racism just like almost every western country. It’s as simple as that. In most neighborhoods, a Black person faces discrimination, negativity, rejection and often oppression. Life in Greece is not easy for a person of color. The above self-evident and well-known truths were mentioned by Greek-Nigerian basketball star Giannis Antetokounmpo in a recent interview where he spoke about growing up in poverty in Greece and the difficulties experienced by migrants.

Greece is not some kind of exception among most western countries. It has its own peculiarities. It has its good and bad sides, differences and similarities. It also has racism. Greece is a country of white people, the so-called “Greek Freak” said. And of Orthodox Christians, I would add. And it is up to the state, the institutions and ultimately ourselves to show that we can coexist, whites with Blacks and Asians, Christians with Jews and Muslims, majorities with minorities.

Despite the hardships and injustices he experienced in Greece, Antetokounmpo has repeatedly proved how much he loves our – and his – country and how much he honors the Greek flag. And, of course, he has repeatedly made us proud. His entire stance makes the racist rant of professor Konstantinos Kalemis, the former (after his immediate removal) refugee education coordinator at the Malakasa migrant camp, even more ridiculous. Commenting on Antetokounmpo’s interview on Twitter, he wondered: “What job did we say this monkey does?” The answer is simple: He is a professional basketball player – and one of the best in the world.

As for the leader of the ultra-conservative Greek Solution party who chose to pick on Antetokounmpo in order to make some point about who is Greek and who is not, what can one say? Shame on him. 

People around the world talk about “Giannis” and describe one of the most famous athletes in the world as a “Greek.” We owe him, he does not owe us. Apart from being a great athlete, he is also a man with principles. This is shown by the tenderness with which he always talks about his parents and how he thanks them for all they did for him. It is not only preposterous, it is also foolish that some people choose to unleash vulgarities against Giannis Antetokounmpo, instead of proudly saying that this world-class athlete is Greek – and he is.