John Barnes on misguided anti-racist movement: “Black Lives Matter only if you’re killed by a white policeman”

Former England footballer John Barnes has hit out at racial equality movements for focusing too heavily on high-profile isolated incidents, rather than campaigning for real change for the average black person.

Speaking to RT’s Ben Swann on Friday, the ex-winger explained that whilst anti-racist organisations promote token gestures to highlight racial issues, this isn’t translating into change for working-class black people who are held back by what he believes to be the class struggle.


“I don’t like to highlight what I call the ‘sexy’ instances of a George Floyd, or a high-profile black person not being given a Oscar,” said Barnes.

“I want to highlight the average black person going through what they go through every day which is disenfranchisement, not being given access to social care, and being discriminated against generally.”

Barnes called out the misconception that having more black people in high-profile roles represents genuine change for the black masses.

“You look at how in England, we want there to be a visible representation of black people in television and in the media. We are now more than 20% represented with only 3% black people, so we’re having an over-representation at an elite level but nothing changes for the 90% of black people down below.

“The more we see that and we say, ‘Yes, things are changing’, nothing will change for the masses.”


Barnes took aim at the appropriation by Hollywood elites of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement, initially launched to raise awareness of black girls who had been sexually abused.

“‘Me Too’ in America was about young black girls being abused in the inner cities. A Hollywood actress took it over and now the #MeToo movement is about Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood actors.

“When Colin Kaepernick took a knee it was to highlight the injustices in the inner city, not high-profile cases. Now all of the cases are forgotten about because it’s about George Floyd or black footballers and their right to take a knee.”

He questioned the effectiveness of the Black Lives Matter movement which plays on racial tension rather than highlighting the class inequality of inner city black communities which results in violence and struggle among black people both in the UK and the United States.

“Black Lives Matter only if you’re killed by a white policeman. What about the young black kids being killed disproportionately in the inner cities? And it may be by other black people but it’s not a black problem, it’s an inner city socio-economic problem.

“No-one is talking about the thousands of black kids being killed unless they’re being killed by a white policeman. We have to stop looking at these “sexy” highlights of racism because a white man’s killing a black man.”