George Graham

Russian Gesture Shows Racism is Global

If you think racism is a uniquely American phenomenon, you should consider the strange behavior of Russian politician Irina Rodnin. The former Olympic figure skater posted a picture on Twitter of President Obama and the American First Lady  gazing at a hand holding up a banana. (pictured above).

This disgustingly rude gesture has prompted widespread condemnation throughout Russia. But Rodnin has supporters, too. Russia’s opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, reposted the silly picture on Friday evening, claiming it was a joke.

Bananas are some kind of racist symbol to these idiots, I suppose. I’ll leave the insulting implications to your imagination. Fans in Europe and Russia often wave bananas at black players during soccer games.

This is so stupid that it hardly warrants discussion. Bananas are among the best things you can eat. The world’s oldest man, Salustiano Sanchez, who died Friday in New York City at the age of 112, attributed his longevity to eating a banana a day. And Jamaica’s legendary sprinters attribute their athleticism to eating a lot of bananas.

I eat two or three bananas a day, and I don’t care what dumbbells like Irina Rodnin think that makes me. Perhaps if she were to eat more bananas she wouldn’t be such a dope.

Rodnina, 64, won three Olympic gold medals in figure skating in the 1970s and 1980s, which just goes to show you that being a star athlete doesn’t make you smart.

Racism is about as dumb as you can get.

But it won’t go away. As times get tougher and the competition for scarce resources heats up, tribal bitterness flares up around the globe. And it isn’t directed just against black people. Anyone can be a target.

And it can get a lot more frightening than the occasional picture of someone with a banana.

I can only hope that enlightenment will come with education and that racism will be seen for the blight that it is. Hope springs eternal, as they say.

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About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for