Elsewhere in cyberspace a heated debate amongst the Ukrainian Expat community and some English football fans is engaged, fueled by media coverage in the UK of Ukrainian and Polish supporters football violence and racist actions and chants.
Now there is no denying that there is a racist element amongst certain fans and in particular those associated to certain football clubs in Ukraine.
There is also one Ukrainian football club whose supporters are associated with anti-fascism (not that such a thing would be reported in the UK media).
However, this heated debate between the Ukrainian Expat community and traveling English fans has now centred over the word “nigger/negro” (негр).
It is time to be crystal clear. In Ukraine and Russia there is no racial derogatory slur attached to the word “nigger/negro”. It is not an insult here and neither is it meant to be insulting!
Despite the negativity attached to the word in the UK and other nations, historically and currently, the word nigger has no such undercurrent in Ukraine or Russia. It is not a word that Ukrainians or Russians would use to insult a black person.
In Ukraine and Russia, the word nigger/negro simply means a black person and nothing more. It is politically correct here.
If a Ukrainian or Russian wanted to racially insult a black person, nigger is most definitely not the word they would use to do it.
They would use words like chernomazy (черномазый) or several others I won’t bother to list that have the same distasteful connotations as those attached to the word nigger in the UK. Anyway, you get my point.
So, if you are in Ukraine for the football (or Russia or Ukraine for any other reason) and hear the word “nigger/negro” – it is not the insult you will automatically associate it with if you are an English football fan or western tourist. It is a politically correct word with no insulting undertone whatsoever!
Do please remember not all words have the same insinuations or inferences in all cultures and languages. Taking a drunken swing at somebody you hear using the word nigger here will land you (and not them) with a robust response from the police as they have said nothing wrong – in fact they have been politically correct.
Cultural, linguistic and historical awareness is a necessity if you are looking for an excuse to call racism over words like nigger in Ukraine. Wonder if the BBC or UK media will actually highlight this, or whether they will simply be so ignorant as to see it as a racial insult – that it isn’t?