More than 40 prominent people of colour in the United Kingdom, including broadcasters, celebrities and actors, have criticised the British Broadcasting Corporation after it rebuked one of its presenters of Indian origin for calling out United States President Donald Trump for using divisive language, BBC reported on Friday.
On Wednesday, the network ruled that Naga Munchetty, host of BBC Breakfast, had breached its guidelines with her comments. The company said Munchetty was entitled to her views but had gone “beyond what the guidelines allow for”.
On July 14, Trump had asked four minority liberal Congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”. Three of them – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley – were born in America, while the fourth, Ilhan Omar, had moved to the country in her childhood.
The following day, BBC Breakfast invited a Trump supporter to defend his comments. When her co-host Dan Walker sought her opinion, Munchetty said: “Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism. Now, I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.” She added that she was “absolutely furious a man in that position thinks it’s okay to skirt the lines by using language like that”.
Munchetty suggested that the president’s use of such language encouraged others to use it, before saying: “Anyway, I am not here to give my opinion.”
In a letter published in The Guardian, actors Lenny Henry, Adrian Lester and David Harewood, and presenters Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Gillian Joseph, among others, called BBC’s decision “racially discriminatory treatment”.
They urged the BBC to revisit its decision and said it would have a “profound effect on the future diversity within the BBC”. The signatories said the scope of the ruling was already evident in the “unprecedented number of BAME media figures who have openly and publicly voiced their condemnation”.
They called on the BBC management to “issue their support for journalists and acknowledge there can be no expectation of impartiality over expressions and experiences of racism”.
“To suggest a journalist can talk about her own experiences of racism while withholding a critique on the author of racism [in this case President Trump] has the ludicrous implication that such racism may be legitimate and should be contemplated as such,” the signatories added.
Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.