At the height of my playing career, David Baddiel wore blackface and put a pineapple on his head to mock me on national television every Friday night. While the chants have remained ever present, and David’s name has become synonymous with mine, it’s taken 25 years for us to finally meet face-to-face. In this episode, I talk with David about the impact his racist sketches had on me, my family and the wider community, and why allyship needs to become a bigger part of football.
While watching David Baddiel's excellent Jews Don't Count documentary on Channel Four I was intrigued by the section in which he spoke to Jason Lee, leading me to seek out this podcast episode.
In the nineties at the height of “lads’ culture”, Baddiel and Frank Skinner essentially bullied and abused footballer Lee, mocking his appearance in particular.
This conversation, difficult as it sounded, is fascinating. It throws up so many moral ambiguities, such as whether or not Baddiel is a fit person to publicly campaign against racism, and related questions around acceptance, rehabilitation and moving on.
It also made me question my own prejudices and behaviours, past and present.
Most of all I was impressed by Jason Lee. His past treatment has meant that he and his family have had a lot to endure, but he speaks with such dignity, positivity and resolve.