Iceland’s face of Eurovision: “Just ignore the racists”

Stefánsson is parts of the Icelandic pop group Retro Stefson.

Stefánsson is parts of the Icelandic pop group Retro Stefson. Photo: Iceland Monitor Eggert Jóhannesson

Messages of support have flooded in to Iceland’s Eurovision jury points spokesperson after racist comments about him were published on social media.

Unnsteinn Manúel Stefánsson is a well-known Icelandic pop star and TV host. He was born in Portugal to an Icelandic father and an Angolan mother and brought up in Iceland.

His role as point-giver in last Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest was the subject of a small minority of racist remarks on social media, such as “What? Should a negro be the face of Iceland abroad? [...] He should have been replaced by an Icelander.”

MORE: Anger and disgust at Icelandic Eurovision racist slurs

“My father taught my brother Logi and me to ignore these people, as they will always exist,” Stefánsson wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.

He praises the work of people like Selma Erla Serdar, who exposed some of the comments, saying that “it is very important for people to call out prejudice and I admire her for doing that”.

Most viewers raised an eyebrow at the spokesperson's dog rather ...

Most viewers raised an eyebrow at the spokesperson's dog rather than the colour of his skin. Photo: YouTube screenshot

“For my part, though, I can’t say I’m taking these comments personally,” Stefánsson says, adding “We can’t let [racist comments] take over all discussion of my public appearances forever.”

“If I spent time publishing screenshots of comments from tipsy rural housewives who are not amused at their Eurovision party because of my dark skin, I wouldn’t have time for anything else.”

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