By Léo Azambuja

Leo 1Amazing! Why are we discussing racism when we should have put that to bed centuries ago, and instead, concentrated in the wealth and health of a society as a whole? Can’t we see that racism will only lead to war, death and suffering?

Yet, well into the 21st century, we still hear racial slurs from prominent public figures, the kind of people who are supposed to be leading by example.

Just a few days ago, the man likely to become next Italian Football Federation president, Carlo Tavecchio, referred to African players as “banana eaters” during a public statement. Reminded by reporters of his statement, he said he couldn’t remember it.

Sports leaders — any leaders — should not be promoting racism. This is especially troubling in Europe, where there’s a history of racism toward dark-skinned players, with fans in soccer stadiums imitating monkeys and throwing bananas into the pitch.

Racism is not just abusive name-calling. It has consequences. It justifies wars and it kills. It disempowers people, robbing them of reason and choice because of their skin color. It targets entire populations, and especially ethnic minorities, and places them at a lower level, subject to poverty, lack of decent health care and education, increased crime, and the list goes on.

And there’s no such a thing as reverse racism. Racism is racism in any color or shape.

I have witnessed racism in different corners of this globe — and also on the Mainland and here in the Islands — directed toward all social classes.

This is not about pointing fingers; rather, it is a wake up call for us to build a better place. We don’t need racism on Kauai. We need to concentrate on what’s important.

We need more schools, public and private. We need free higher education, meaning free universities, just like in many countries in Europe and South America.

We need accessible health care — and I’m sorry to say, Obamacare will not fix it.

We need affordable, efficient public transportation. Even if the government has to subsidize it, it will still save money, public money, by putting cars off the roads and thus spending less in road maintenance and building.

This is not Socialism. Many developed and developing nations have free hospitals, schools and a cheap transportation system. So why can’t we?

I’m a capitalist. I like my money. And as a capitalist, paying taxes and having the government use the money to build a foundation for a healthy and wealthy society is good use of my money. It’s simple math.

Free universities, free hospitals and cheap transportation should be a right. Earning a degree, staying in good health and having access to work and leisure should be a right, not a privilege.

This year, choose well who is going to represent you in the government. But make sure you ask them for what you want, and keep asking until you get it.

In 1963, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I addressed the United Nations with a vigorous speech put into a song by Bob Marley and the Wailers in 1976. The lyrics of “War,” taken almost verbatim from Selassie’s speech, pretty much illustrate my words:

“Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war, me say war.

“That until there no longer first class and second class citizens of any nation, until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes, me say war.

“That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all, without regard to race, dis a war.

“That until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained, now everywhere is war, war.”