Racism & Bigotry in Chess
By Paul Truong
Earlier today, Susan and I received a shocking email from a well known American chess organizer.
It all started when this organizer wanted to invite a few of Webster University SPICE players to his event. We have sent our players to his event in past years so there were no problems as far as I know. The only thing we asked for is to contact us directly and not go to one student at a time since we know the availability and class schedule of each player. This way, there would be no conflict.
The organizer’s shocking response was: “I’ll talk to whoever, whenever, about whatever, anytime I want to, got it. I’m an American.”
Huh? He is an American and we are not? So I am not an American because I don’t have white skin? SPICE is like the United Nations of chess. So does he feel this way about SPICE players too since we have players from 16 different countries, and most of them were not born in the U.S.
I have lived in the US for 35 years. Susan has lived in the US for over 20 years. We are both American citizens. Our four children were born in the United States. And to have an “American” in chess speaking to us (especially Susan as a World & Olympiad Champion) that way? Incredible!
Unfortunately, this is not the first time, and I am sure it will not be the last that we have to deal with racism and bigotry. I personally faced this kind of behavior many times before, especially being the only (or one of very very few) Asian chess master playing and representing the U.S. back in the early 80’s.
Susan, on the other hand, faced a lot more gender discrimination throughout her entire career. The bigger problem is he is not the only one who feels this way. How high up is this problem? Will this ever change?
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– GM Susan Polgar