Here's what "we don't tolerate racism" sounds like. High-five to Chelsea, a football club in the U.K., for the unequivocal NOPE.
We don't always see racism when it happens.
Unfortunately (and no matter what people say), racism is alive and well all over the world. Often it's covert, meaning it's subtle and not done in a public way. Sometimes it's overt, meaning it's so obvious that no matter how much we want to believe that "we're all the human race!" there's no denying that people are treated differently because of the color of their skin.
Here's an example of an act of racism progressing from easy-to-ignore to blatantly obvious.
A black man was trying to board the Metro train in Paris before a football (soccer, for us Americans) game between British club Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain. You might see the first few actions as a dude on a train being a jerk, not letting another guy on.
Passengers physically prevent him from boarding the train by pushing him off.
Here's where their behavior becomes incredibly, undeniably, smack-you-in-the-face racist.
Yes, that's right. The fans actually chanted, "We're racist, we're racist, and that's the way we like it." I couldn't make up a more glaring example of overt racism. It's awful, disgusting, and dehumanizing.
Research has shown ongoing racism can cause many harmful health issues. Those of us who don't experience racism might not see it so easily in day-to-day life. If this had stopped with the fan pushing the man off the train, we might think, "The guy's being a jerk and not letting another man on the full train, but that's not racism!" But it might be. And in this case, it was. We know it because they said it. But racism also happens covertly.
(I should add that some fans who were present denied that it was an act of racism. It's hard for me to believe that, given the entirely audible chants, but anyway ... duly noted.)
A zero-tolerance response.
Chelsea Football Club responded with a big old NOPE in a written statement.
(If you're unfamiliar with how racist and religious crimes are dealt with in the U.K., you can read more here.)
And I know some people are going to say, "Those are just words." But you know what? Words matter, especially coming from one of the most popular football teams in the world.
Guess what else? In 2012, the Football Association suspended Chelsea Captain John Terry from four games and fined him 220,000 pounds for using racially abusive language. The team was OK with that: "Chelsea Football Club notes and respects today's decision by the Football Association regarding John Terry."
This clear statement is how we send the message that racism isn't tolerated. Outspoken condemnation and non-acceptance. High-five.