A lesson in racism

So this is what’s happening on the telly in the UK right now … I’m not sure quite what to think of it but there are plenty of articles and comment about this issue out there if you want to read about it more. Having not seen the show in context, I don’t think I’m in the position to comment about what actually happened (although the clips they’ve been showing on BBC world have been pretty ugly to say the least).

What I can comment on is this (thanks to the BBC website):

In a statement, Channel 4 said there had been “no overt racial abuse or racist behaviour,” despite more than 27,000 complaints from the public to media regulator Ofcom and 3,000 directly to the channel.

“Unambiguous racist behaviour and language is not tolerated under any circumstances in the Big Brother house. Housemates are constantly monitored and Channel 4 would intervene if a clear instance of this arose,” it said.

However, Channel 4 admitted there had “undoubtedly been a cultural and class clash between her and three of the British females in the house.”

Really? So while overt and unambiguous racial abuse or rascist behaviour is not ok subtle and ambiguous racism is? Channel 4 are you kidding me?

There’s been an awful lot of coverage and comment going on about this on the web and what I have found curious is that there is a huge debate about whether this is bullying or racism … I’m sorry, but someone is getting abused in this scenario, does it really matter (plus, you know, imitating someone’s accent when their not in the room to laugh at them is racist – a very stupid little boy in form 2 thought he would be funny to imitate my dad’s accent – I was held back from decking him, only to find out that a couple of the boys in my class beat him up later)?

Racism is a funny thing. Sometimes it can be. I remember the first time I got called a curry muncher. I was completely confused – you don’t much curry, you can’t unless you pour it on rice and I didn’t like curry much anyway, I preferred dhal (and still do) … I thought they were talking about kadhi (which with my little NZ accent, pronounced as curry – google it), I had no idea what the other curry was until I was at Uni. Of course I eventually got the idea that curry muncher was aimed at me and anyone else who was Indian. My response? To completely deny that I was Indian (this started in the third form where some girls called me a curry muncher as I walked out of the science block), to try and stop being different, to refuse to identify myself as the other.

And would you believe that absolute denial about who I was lasted all the way until around 3 years ago, when I finally met these guys and I grew thanks to the good people in Tawata Productions, Writer’s Block and the good folks who I worked on Diwali with (cheers guys, you rock!).

Anyway that’s my experience of racism in the past – I think a lot of people are getting upset about what’s happening in the UK because they too are reminded of what has happened to them and seeing this on screen is in a way reliving the past.

I hope it ends soon.

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One Response to “A lesson in racism”

  1. Not sure if you caught the conclusion of it, but after Shilpa won and got out (finding herself suddenly the biggest celeb in Britain) she denied that their behaviour was racist as it is her protection method… she called it a ‘more dignified’ response than letting their behaviour be called ‘racism’ as if she was a victim. So of course the next thing is that she is hurting those who had seen their own racist treatment in hers and had empathised and sympathised with her… It was all very interesting, but as per usual short-lived in the media. As no-one seemed to care the next week when a Castaway contestant said that they should bring back slavery and that black people were bad back in slavery times.

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