John Barnes joined talkSPORT for a candid and honest interview about his views on racism, after he defended Manchester City’s Bernando Silva over his controversial Twitter post.
The England and Liverpool legend spoke passionately about ‘changing the narrative’ and challenged the modern perceptions of racism in light of people’s outrage at Silva’s post.
Silva has faced criticism for posting a picture of City team-mate and close friend Benjamin Mendy alongside the mascot for Spanish chocolate brand Conguitos, which many have claimed is racist.
Kick It Out have called for the Football Association to take action against the 25-year-old, saying: ‘Racist stereotypes are never acceptable as banter’.
Silva deleted the Tweet on Sunday, later posting a message reading: ‘Can’t even joke with a friend these days… You guys …’
In response to the original post, Mendy – who also played alongside the Portuguese midfielder at Monaco – replied with a number of laughing and clapping emojis and the message: ‘1-0 for you will see’.
Barnes has told talkSPORT he would be ‘disappointed’ if Silva is punished by the FA, with Pep Guardiola also urging the governing body not to take action against ‘one of the most lovely people I have met in my life’.
Silva’s post has sparked a heated debate about racism.
And Barnes joined talkSPORT’s Kick Off on Thursday to challenge people’s views of what they consider racist, insisting that he doesn’t find the post offensive and others shouldn’t either.
Explaining his views to Hugh Woozencroft and Darren Lewis, the 79-cap England hero said: “Why are they offended by that picture?
“I know the ramifications historically, I know about the cartoon, I know everything that goes on and about how black people are disenfranchised… the point I’m trying to make is we have to change the narrative.
“I should be able to look at a carton of a jet black man with big lips and not feel that is negative. Why do we feel that’s negative? Because historically that has been the narrative, but we have to change the narrative.
“There are lots of black men who look that way, so we have to change the narrative of that being negative. We have to start saying, there’s nothing wrong about showing a cartoon, depending on the context of which you’re actually using it, of a black man with big lips, of which there are millions and there’s nothing wrong with that.
“I more than anybody else would tell you about the ills of racism and I’ll call out anybody about being racist, so I’m not defending any kind of racism. I’m talking specifically about this incident.”
Later in the interview Barnes also clarified his comments about Liam Neeson ‘deserving a medal’ after the Star Wars actor admitted his shame over his past racial prejudices during a press tour earlier this year.