Why is the Wall St Journal trash-talking Ghana already? Go #BlackStars!

It’s World Cup time, bring on the articles full of historical stereotypes and racial codes disguised as insightful sports commentary.

For the past two World Cups, the USA team has been routinely decimated by the Ghanaian squads. As a Ghanaian American, I side with my Blackstars, and try to find the nearest Ghanaian restaurant to cheer the boys on. But every four years, I have to brace myself for the predictable slew of American media reporting about Ghana, which usually run along the lines of, WHAT/WHERE IS GHANA?  WHY DOES THIS POOR ,TINY COUNTRY KEEP BEATING US?

In the past these types of articles came out after the USA fell to Ghana. This year WSJ decided to one up the ante and publish one even before the first match between the two teams even started. In an article titled, “Who is Ghana, And Why Can’t the US Beat Them?”  writer Matthew Futterman makes an unoriginal attempt to try to explain Ghana’s past successes over America to the U.S. crowd.  What does he come up with? Because,  BIG BLACK STRONG MEN.

When you can’t go for reason, reach for stereotype.  According to Team USA, Ghana is “athletic and frightening” and “physical”. Futterman writes of the “haunting image” of Ghana’s  Asamoah Gyan “emasculating” the U.S defender Carlos Bocanegra. The writer seems both in awe of and frightened by Gyan’s “burly chest” and “rock hard shoulders”.  Michael Essien is a “beast” when healthy. We’ve all heard this before.

Of course, the reason why USA keeps falling to Ghana isn’t because of USA’s lack of strong players. It’s not because of strategy or tactical superiority on the part of the Black Stars and their coaching. The rhetoric lazily relies on the stereotype of scary,  beast-like Africans who, in the absence of a formal economy and state of the art training facilities, just rely on sheer athleticism.

Then usually come the articles that obsess over how poor Ghana is. Like this one about how Ghana is rationing electricity in order to allow its citizens to watch tonight’s match.

I’m no soccer expert, but maybe if the U.S.A. sports media  spent more time studying the styles and strategies of their Ghanaian opponents rather than focusing on how big and scary their muscles are or how poor their home country is, we’d know why the USA keeps falling to them.

For the record, Go Blackstars!

For an intro to the rich history of the Black Stars, check this superb essay by Kieran Dodds, featuring Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Amilcar Cabral and Stanley Matthews.

Further Reading

Sankara lives!

This week on AIAC Talk we discuss the start of Thomas Sankara’s assassination trial, which confirms that for many Burkinabes, his spirit very much lives on.

The United States is not a country

The US federal system is a patchwork of states and territories, municipal and local jurisdictions, each with its own laws and regulations. This complex map provides ample opportunities for shell games of “hide the money.”

Growing pains

For all the grief Afropunk gets, including its commercialization and appetite for expansion, it still manages to bring people, mostly black, together over two days for a pretty great party.