American boxer Mike Tyson recently caused a controversy after while on a tour in Poland said that Polish people “didn’t have sh*t happen to them” and that “black people in the US” have suffered more:
Boxing legend Mike Tyson has caused controversy during a promotional tour in Poland by saying that Poles “didn’t have sh*t happen” to them compared to the history of discrimination against black people in the US.
The 52-year-old former world heavyweight champion arrived in Warsaw as part of an advertising tour for ‘Black Energy’ drink, which he has promoted for several years.
Plans were announced, by the company that makes the drink, for Tyson to visit historical sites dedicated to the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and the Holocaust, something which the American boxing icon has spoken about in promotion materials in the past.
Responding to criticism by Polish activists that the company was cynically using World War II-era suffering for publicity, Tyson hit back by comparing Polish tragedies with those of black Americans.
“Your Polish guys didn’t have sh*t happen to you compared to what happened to black people in America,” Tyson, 52, said in part of an interview published by TVP.
“No one imprisoned you for 250 f*cking years. And raped your mother, and your sister, and your brother in front of your eyes before they killed them… What happened to y’all was really bad… but nobody in the world’s been persecuted more than black people.”
Nazi-occupied Poland suffered during the Holocaust, with the Auschwitz concentration camp the site of immense suffering and the estimated deaths of more than 1 million people.
There were two major uprisings against the Nazi army in Poland, in 1943 and 1944, aimed at liberating Warsaw from German occupation. (source, source)
„Kto wie więcej o prześladowaniach niż ciemnoskórzy?” – tak Mike Tyson odpowiada na zarzuty, że nie powinien brać udziału w filmie o powstaniu warszawskim. Wkrótce na portalu https://t.co/4oYRjx3w5F cały wywiad z amerykańskim bokserem#wieszwięcej pic.twitter.com/DR16xOOyzD
— portal tvp.info 🇵🇱 (@tvp_info) June 26, 2019
Now this is not about “who suffered more over what”. Indeed, people around the world in many cultures have suffered much.
That said, it cannot be ignored that given Poland’s history, originally as a slaving ground source for the German tribes to be sold throughout the lands of the former Roman Empire, North Africa, and the Middle East in the days before Christianity (and hence the origin of the name “Slav”), to be continually ripped apart to come back together to be ripped apart again by Germany, Austria, and Russia, not to mention the mass murders of her people that have taken place throughout her history, is quite serious. One should remember that Poland did not exist for about 150 years from the 18th to the 20th century, and that during the Second World War she was ethnically targeted for genocide by the German nationalists and later was severely mistreated by the Bolshevik Communists.
It is not good to deny the history of slavery in the US. But it is also wrong to spit on the wounds of others in different lands, especially using ignorant language.
If anything, this does not serve to make people listen or respect what one says, but serves to promote racism and further divide people on tribalistic lines in a time when tribalism is rising and is leading the world to war again.