Friday, July 11, 2008

Media racism: another controversial piece

Thanks Bayo for sending this (not sure where the article comes from). You can listen to the original Thought for the Day piece here.

The BBC has been accused of racism after a claim on Radio 4's Today programme that Africans suffer from an 'endemic moral deficit'.

Author Clifford Longley was repeating a conversation he had with a Nigerian theologian when he appeared on the show's Thought for the Day slot.

He claimed the other man told him that 'African culture has always lacked a developed sense of common humanity'.

Afterwards the BBC's Black and Asian Forum complained to the corporation's director of news Helen Boaden and Today editor Ceri Thomas. Forum chairman Winston Phillips also wrote an angry letter to the corporation's house magazine Ariel which was published this week.

He said there were concerns that the comments were 'offensive' and 'racist'.

Mr Phillips said: 'While sensitive to the need for an exchange of wide-ranging views on important topics, the BBC should ensure it does not present racist or xenophobic views in an unqualified way.

'The fact that this broadcast went out unchallenged points to a wider problem in the BBC, and the media generally - the failure to advance (black and Asian) people to senior positions.'

In the broadcast on June 30, Longley said: 'A Nigerian moral theologian I met recently was quite frank about it: African culture has always lacked a developed sense of common humanity, of the solidarity that extends beyond village and family and which entails a commitment to the common good.

'This "us and them" mentality was not just tribal. The moral deficit explained, he said, how African tribal chiefs had felt no moral qualms about capturing slaves from neighbouring districts and selling them to white slave traders; and later, doing land deals with white settlers.

'Hence also Africa's propensity to turn to massacre and genocide such as we saw in Rwanda and Congo, and narrowly avoided seeing again very recently in Kenya.'

The row comes weeks after BBC non-executive director Samir Shah was critical of the corporation's failure to employ black and Asian people in senior management roles.

The BBC confirmed it had received a complaint and was looking into the issue.


Anonymous,  6:08 am  

Havent read this post yet, and i will, but i must use this opportunity to direct your attention to the July issue of US Vogue(Nicole Kidman on cover). Inside, page 136, theres an investigative report titled "Is Fashion Racist?". It laments the fact that diversity in the fashion industry is practically non existent. I wonder if this is the essay that was the smoke behind the wild Italian Vogue fire that never was? Just wanted to put this out there in response to the rapidly circulated urban legend about the Italian Vogue "Black Issue".
Actually, the Vogue article is another piece about media and (fashion) industry rascism...

Opium,  12:06 pm  

I listened to the broadcast in question and agreed with what was said. Admittedly the statement will be inflammatory to some but it doesn't not make it any less true. How then can one justify the actions of the continent's leaders, or the Nigerian tribal view that if one of their own is in power then that person must help his own people especially nevermind if it is to the detriment of all others.

Anonymous,  3:00 pm  

Nothing controversial here. It is simply the bare truth. We all know it and need to address it sooner rather than later. No need for the PC brigade to blow their horns, save it and get back to work...
Going by the changes of faces at my university (top 3 in the UK) since I started back in 2001 till now, I predict its only a matter of time before the misrepresentation of ethnic minorities at the BBC will be addressed. People naturally resist change but it will come. So much talent is coming not only from Naija but especially west Indian girls. By 2012 the old establishment wont know whats hit them!

Anonymous,  6:49 pm  

And it takes a developed sense of 'shared humanity' to enslave other human beigns like the British and the rest of the West did? What is absent here is a sense of deep thought.

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