Veteran grime DJ Logan Sama announced yesterday that he will no longer have a show on the BBC, just two days before his new weekly show on 1Xtra was due to start. The BBC press office have just announced that grime stalwart Sir Spyro, a regular DJ on Rinse FM since 2005 and supporter of new talent, will now host the weekly grime show.
“It has been decided by the BBC that I am not suitable to join their network,” Sama’s statement read. “Ignorant and offensive comments made as jokes on a public platform” in the form of a number of problematic tweets seem to be at the heart of the problem. Last week these tweets began to circulate again as Twin B, a resident DJ at 1Xtra and head of A & R at Atlantic Records, expressed disapproval at their content.
— Logan Sama (@djlogansama) November 8, 2017
Dating back to 2011, jokes about domestic violence, consistent condescending reference to “lighties” and even the phrase “militant black female” all appear in the messages immortalised by screenshot. The tweets demonstrate a clear thread of misogyny and more specifically of misogynoir targeted at black women.
Through phrases such as “they’re all the same anyway” in reference to light skinned women (or “demons” as they are referred to in one tweet), Sama’s commentary shamelessly perpetuated negative stereotypes of black women. The term “lighty” is too often a weapon of colourism in a society which glorifies European beauty standards, and each use of it reinforces the structures of that society. Similarly, “international militant black females” reinforces a trope that so many of us have spent a lifetime battling; the “angry black woman” who has something to say and should learn to shut up.
“Logan Sama is one of the few and most committed grime DJs on mainstream radio. When Twin B described him as “arrogant”, it was an understatement. He was behaving as if he was invincible.”
Those of you less familiar with Logan Sama’s story may be wondering how on God’s green earth it came to be that a white man, a white man whose livelihood is in grime at that, was so brave as to use such an abundance of racialised misogynistic language, on a public platform, for so long. Let me explain: Logan Sama has been at the front and centre of grime for almost 15 years. He is loved by the industry, by its artists and is one of the few and most committed grime DJs on mainstream radio. He has worked closely and consistently with grime legends including Wiley, and generally has reached a point in his career where people just don’t really come for you. When Twin B described Logan Sama as “arrogant”, it was an understatement. He was behaving as if he was invincible.
Last summer, Chante Joseph, one of our contributors, called Logan Sama out for his refusal to acknowledge grime as a black art form. In trying to open up a conversation on erasure and appropriation, she was met with disparaging dismissal, not just from him personally but from what seemed like the whole grime scene. From Plastician to P Money the industry completely shut down the thoughts of a black woman on the matter and Logan Sama remained untouchable. Despite riding for the black British musicians since the magazine was founded (just weeks earlier gal-dem had spoken out in defence of Giggs following an NME review labelling him a rapist) gal-dem was dismissed.
It still concerns me how easy it can be to silence or ignore black women and the uncomfortable question remains: why did it take the dissatisfaction of a male colleague, for these comments to be considered in their true gravity? If in conversation last summer, it was Sama’s misogynoir and not his views on blackness and art that gal-dem were tackling, I fear that the outcome would have been not too dissimilar. How is it so easy to ignore droves of black women while the complaints of one black man can result in such swift action?
Er, el oh flippin el if you think my twitter convo with Logan was about protecting a radio show… a couple of convos with some REAL Gs…
— Twin (@TwinB) November 9, 2017
was goin on with 1Xtra management & Logan's show before my convo… Logan himself will tell u & he'll also tell u I've never had an anti-
— Twin (@TwinB) November 9, 2017
Tweets from Twin B suggest that conversation about Sama’s show was ongoing before his comments
Whilst I can’t deny the cartwheels that my inner petty did when I heard the news, I do wonder what his rejection from the BBC really stands for. Is it glorious retribution for those wronged? A sign of that times are changing, as the BBC leads on intersectional analysis? Is it at long last a lesson to man who has finally learnt that trashing black women is not okay?
In the long run, Logan Sama will be fine. Even today he will have most of the male-dominated industry on his side, crying that oversensitivity and political correctness impacted him unfairly. Sadly, I’m doubtful that this is the end of institutionalised racism and sexism in the media. The BBC may be taking diversity and inclusion seriously today but their historical handling of characters such as Jeremy Clarkson and Geoffrey Boycott certainly lacked severity.
Scanning Twitter, Logan Sama does seem unironically apologetic at present, so perhaps there is hope that his behaviour at least will change. With some luck, next time he’ll think twice before cracking the kind of jokes that normalise an epidemic which sees two women dead every week in the UK. I hope at least, Logan, that you bow down in respect rather than dismiss in arrogance the next “militant black female” whose presence you are lucky enough to share.