It’s true. Think about it. He sent Saliba out on loan after loan after loan. He froze Aubameyang out. He refuses to let Elneny play. He loaned out Marquinhos, Tavares, Pepe, Falogun, and Lokonga. He only gave Nketiah the tiniest of chances. He keeps signing white players like Havertz, Ramsdale, Ødegaard, White, and now Rice. Why, that makes it as clear as day: like White on Rice. He’s slowly phasing out black players to integrate more white players into the squad. It’s so obvious that we all overlooked his racism.
Think it through. Trossard replaces Martinelli. White replaces Tomiyasu. Kiwior replaces Saliba or Big Gabi. Havertz replaces Jesus or maybe Saka. Partey’s about to be sold with a replacement to be named later. Even Arteta’s legendary jet-black hair is showing signs of white. We’re through the looking-glass here, people.
Okay. I’m done with the charade. Sadly, there are some people out there who are sincerely accusing Arteta of racism, seriously and without any sense of self-awareness or logical thought processes, on the grounds that I just laid out sardonically. This kind of hysterical (as in overwrought, not hilarious) reaction to perceived slights based on loosely-threaded together “trends” that supposedly add up to a conspiracy only damage actual attempts at fighting to eliminate racism from society. I’m not saying that we should tip-toe around racists for fear of agitating them—quite the contrary. Calling racists out for their ignorance is necessary and vital.
However, conjuring up flimsy allegations of racism frustrates the very-real need to stamp out all-too-real racism. Whether it’s the shooting death of Nahel Merzouk in France or racist chants in stadiums or black employees being paid less and many, many more, there are levels of racism both blatant and invisible. Arteta’s apparent pattern of loaning out numerous black players? It’s hard to see that as racist when he’s signed most of those players in the first place.
He’s on the record as having thoroughly supported the players’ decision to start kneeling in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd. Even as the Premier League announced that such moments would be phased out to what they called “significant moments of the season”, Arteta said “we should still send a very important message that as a club we want to obviously express that equality is a massive thing for us, that everybody is welcome in our football club, in our industry hopefully and we need to maintain to be strong on that message.”
There’s just no “there” there when people accuse Arteta of racism, but they’re doing it anyway. Much like the story of the boy who cried wolf, they’ll end up prejudicing us against actual instances of racism, and that’s more than an attempt at clever wordplay on my part. If they keep concocting these cockamamie accusations, they’ll cheapen the problem to the point that people stop paying attention—and this will make it easier for those actual instances of racism to flourish.
Let’s hope more people come to their senses, whether this refers to them calling out racism in others, weeding out their own racist assumptions or beliefs, using racist chants as “banter”, or wearing out the word racism by tossing it around too casually.