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25th Mar 2018

WATCH: Muhammad Ali’s perfect reply to being told ‘not all white people are racist’

One of the most eloquent men of all time.

Kyle Picknell

Parkinson didn’t know how to respond.

It’s unfortunate that in this day and age people still tend to lean on the “not all white people are racist” argument whenever racism is challenged. It is often utilised to distract from the real discussion needing to take place and unfortunately, it can work, as people quickly get swept away by the reassurance that “not all white people are racist” and therefore that the behaviour is relatively rare and their own apathy an acceptable response.

This is of course completely wrong, and legendary boxer and activist Muhammad Ali had it spot on almost 40 years ago, explaining why the argument falls through during a groundbreaking appearance on Parkinson in 1971.

Ali lucidly and intelligently comments on a number of issues surrounding race and culture, but perhaps most memorable is his answer to the “not all white people are racist” argument, tearing it down to its bare bones and showcasing it for the insignificant pandering to the masses that it is.

He told Parkinson: “There are many white people who mean right and in their hearts wanna do right. If 10,000 snakes were coming down that aisle now, and I had a door that I could shut, and in that 10,000, 1,000 meant right, 1,000 rattlesnakes didn’t want to bite me, I knew they were good… Should I let all these rattlesnakes come down, hoping that that thousand get together and form a shield? Or should I just close the door and stay safe?”

It is, of course, embarrassing that his words so long ago are still entirely relevant today, but it is also a tribute to the man that, not only was he ahead of his time, he was ahead of our own, too.

Truly the world’s greatest.