This week Daisy Ridley denies her privilege and BBC Radio 1 appoints first non-binary presenter
gal-dem discusses the importance of good journalism and BBC Radio 1's recent appointment of its first non-binary presenter.
Rosel Jackson Stern and Neelam Tailor
09 Dec 2019
Photography courtesy of Disney / The Rise of Skywalker
During this election, bad journalism has taken front and centre stage. Whether it’s the Channel 4 “people of talent” debacle or the BBC editing Boris Johnson to portray him in a more favourable light, misinformation and dangerous rhetoric inform the decisions we make as voters. The power of news outlets to equip their audiences can’t be underestimated with voting day just three days away. With that in mind, here is this week’s Race Review.
Daisy Ridley is challenged on wealth and class in ‘awkward’ interview
During an interview with the Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley, journalist Nosheen Iqbal reversed a question many celebrities of colour are familiar with: “how does your identity influence your work?”. In a profile of the star for the Guardian Weekend, she asked Daisy how her privilege has influenced her career.
The actor, who went to boarding school and whose grandfather has an actual OBE, replied that her experience isn’t actually that different from John Boyega’s, who grew up on a council estate in Peckham.
“The privilege I have – how? No, genuinely, how?” she asked initially, before following up, “John grew up on a council estate in Peckham and I think me and him are similar enough that… no.”
This ridiculous statement aside, journalists who press celebrities on the considerable privilege that helped them attain fame is refreshing. Too often, stories about people of colour relentlessly feature pain and suffering while white celebrities are free to talk about their work, interests and whatever else. The interview feels like a small example of what happens when journalists don’t shy away from asking hard questions of people with privilege. It’s telling that Daisy admitted to never having been asked a question like that before.
BBC Radio 1 recruits their first non-binary presenter
Jacob Edwards has made history by becoming the first non-binary presenter on BBC Radio 1. A regular host for Gaydio in Manchester, they will be hosting their first BBC over Christmas.
“The people who worked with me on the pilot show and the press release respected my identity from the word go,” Jacob told gal-dem. “They used my pronouns and acknowledged my identity both online and in-person straight away.”
Jacob hopes to normalise their identity and hopes that their skill as a presenter will speak for itself. “I want to be honest and introduce myself with my pronouns, to show the mainstream Radio 1 audience that my pronouns may be different but the rest is the same great radio they’ve come to expect from BBC Radio 1,” they said.
The BBC’s recent track record of irresponsible reporting and treatment of Naga Munchetty has been followed up by a much-needed push for diversity within the institution. June Sarpong was appointed as the first Director of Creative Diversity and the BBC announced a new plan to take “immediate action” to increase BAME representation at senior levels. It will be appointing two new advisors to each BBC leader group.
Buzzwords like “diversity” and “inclusion” are frequently used by companies and organisations as a quick fix to internal racism and discrimination. We know that representation doesn’t equal liberation and it’s difficult to tell how recent appointments will affect people’s experiences working for the BBC. Either way, it’s exciting that non-binary people and people of colour are given a platform on BBC Radio 1. It’s another small step in creating the media we all deserve.
• A BBC presenter disgustingly snubbed Bernardine Evaristo, the first black woman to win the Booker Prize, and called her “another author” after naming shared winner Margaret Atwood. It affirmed suspicions that Bernardine would be erased due to the shared title and drew criticism that Margaret did not step aside.
• You can watch Matthew A. Cherry’s short film Hair Love, created for his daughter about an African American father learning to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.
•Minhal Baig’s new film Hala is available on Apple+ and tells the story of a 17-year-old Pakistani American woman exploring her sexuality, culture, and religion.
• Issa Rae is on a roll atm, she is starring in the English remake of Italian “dramedy” Perfect Strangers about a group of friends who play a high-stakes game at a dinner party.
• Twenty years after starring in In Too Deep, Nia Long and Omar Epps will be reunited for a new Netflix feature called Fatal Affair.
• A Japanese transgender womxn with an eight-year-old daughter has sued the Kobe Family Court for blocking her from changing her sex on the official family registry system.
• TERF alert! Senior BBC presenter Emily Maitlis compared transgender womxn to “predatory” men.
• Crosslom David, 20, a member of south London drill group Harlem Spartans, was stabbed to death in Deptford on 6 December.
• Game developer Wargroove has apologised after casting white actors to portray characters of colour, insisting that “blind” casting led them in that direction.
• Remember the Aladdin remake? Well, there was one irrelevant white character in it, and guess what, he’s getting a spinoff. This is while lead Mena Massoud has struggled to get a single audition since the film came out.
• 43 factory workers have been tragically killed in Delhi after a bag factory caught fire on 8 December.
•Over 600 Pakistani girls have been sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China, a new list obtained by the Associated Press has revealed.
• Top UK firms are failing to increase diversity in their boardrooms, new data from FTSE100 shows.
Moment of the week
A stunning portrait of Stormzy has been hung in London’s National Portrait Gallery.
This article is a part of gal-dem’s Race Review column, a weekly news roundup centring the issues faced by people of colour.