Soccer

Lillian Thuram exclusive interview: "white thinking is everywhere"

In his latest book, former French World Cup winner Lillian Thuram challenges people to understand their history in order to escape racial injustices.

Lillian Thuram is a former French soccer player who won the World Cup and was an extremely accomplished athlete. These days, though, he is focused on more important issues. Since his retirement in 2008, Thuram started the Lillian Thuram Foundation to educate people about racism. It's more than just the issues that most people are already aware of - it's about understanding the past and how the mentalities that sprouted from it came to be.

White Thinking: Behind the Mask of Racial Identity

In his latest book, "White Thinking: Behind the Mask of Racial Identity", Thuram dives deeper into this subject. He talks about how people have to learn to accept people who act differently in order to overcome injustices. "There are preconceived ideas and structures through which we understand the world," he says. "We have to become aware of that as the first step towards changing it.”

In an interview, he talks about his own experiences with racism. He discusses the fact that historically, black people have been seen as lazy or less intelligent than white people. He even recounts a teammate telling him, "with your physique and my intelligence, I would be an incredible player", as if Thuram himself did not possess that same intelligence or was not capable of being an incredible player himself.

"It's interesting because there's been a lot of games, a lot of tests, a lot of psychology experiments, that show that racism is hidden in places that you wouldn't think," said Thuram.

Being outspoken takes courage

Thuram praises other athletes who have spoken out against racism. "To be very outspoken, very often when you look at history, is to look for trouble," Thuram says.

He encourages every athlete to speak out against racism and not ignore the issue in order to keep peace. He stresses that remaining neutral or silent on any issue is supporting the issue. Though he highly encourages people to study the history of racism and really understand its roots, he also wants people to understand that he's not trying to make anyone feel guilty. He simply wants to challenge them to question themselves and to take a stand.

"I invite readers to think about this: Can we escape these identities and consider ourselves above all as human beings?"