Here’s the story…
Every Tuesday, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses his Justice and Development Party (AKP) cohorts… Criticizing Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the center-left and secular Republican Peoples Party (CHP), Erdoğan declared, “Kılıçdaroğlu is striving every bit he can to raise himself from the level of a black person to the level of a white man.”
And here’s the background…
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is likely of Kurdish origin, though there are some questions about his ethnicity. Kurds are a repressed group in Turkey. They certainly are not black (though as mentioned before, Turkey has a large number of descendants of African slaves, the Afro-Turks), but that doesn’t necessarily matter.
Racism is relative. Afro-Turks, for example, are referred to as Arabs, which tells us that Turks see themselves as “white” and Arabs as “black”.
Erdogan isn’t just using black as an insult. He’s suggesting that Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu is racially inferior because of his Kurdish origins to the “white” Turks.
The undertone is the ongoing bigotry against Kurds in Turkish society. A bigotry that has resulted in unheard of political and cultural persecution in a country that claims to want to join the EU.