Video: Pini Gershon And The ‘Mocha Face’ Theory

After this weekend’s bizarre sideline tirade where Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Pini Gershon refused to leave the court after being ejected from a Madison Square Garden exhibition, TRUEHOOP’s Henry Abbott went poking around for more footage. What he found was, well, a little unfortunate.

Pini Gershon Mocha Face Maccabi Tel Aviv
(It kinda went downhill from here.)

There’s Gershon, explaining to the Israeli Defense Forces back in 2000 how to characterize black people and what you can tell from the color of their skin. Is there an inappropriate reference to slavery? Oh, you bet. Is there full video? Two for two. Watch after the break.

If you’re blocked at work, here are a few “highlights”:

  • Each one. With his ego and status. Especially in different colors. They examine you all the time.
  • By his color, as he’d been seen, he was wise comparative to blacks.
  • The black differs. There are colors.
  • Out of them, there are mocha-colored people, who are wiser.
  • Usually, the deep black people come out of the streets.
  • The other black people, they are dumb, like slaves. They do whatever you tell them.

It’s not really hate speech or anything; Gershon is animated, but no more than usual, and he’s certainly not losing his composure or trying to foster any anti-black sentiment.

At the same time, well, this is the type of stuff that when grandpa says it, the younger members of the family just shake their heads and say “he’s from a different era.” Gershon is both this and from a different region, and one of the marked features of life abroad is that racism flourishes, but in a much different way than we’re used to stateside.

Here, racism is usually manifested in a vitriolic, pro-white fashion, though there’s plenty of examples otherwise and we don’t need to get into that and on and on.

Across the ocean, on the other hand, racism is casual, but also usually without a sense of “white,” since the distinctions are usually from the countries of ancestry, not the color of skin. It’s also still acceptable in semi-polite conversation, since the undertones of violence and slavery aren’t as strong.

So when, say, an Israeli man starts dealing with black people, everything that goes into the reasons why we Americans avoid that kind of talk aren’t really there, and you get what we have here. As Abbott points out, Gershon says he’s not a racist, and even with the speech staring us in the face, we kind of get where he’s coming from. Kind of.