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This week has seen BBC plagiarism, John Cleese tweeting shit from the Caribbean and India’s obsession with fair skin

03 Jun 2019

via Direct TV / Vimeo

We’re disappointed in the Beeb this week. They swiped the name of Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené’s bestselling book about uplifting black women, Slay In Your Lane, for their BBC Sport ad campaign about empowering women in sport. A few days, BBC Three launched a new reality TV show about women in grime called Galdem Sugar – strikingly similar to our very own (and very sick) club night gal-dem sugar.

“Trademark your shit” was Yomi’s advice to black creatives. Ironically, her book talks about this very issue, in particular, “white women and white people intentionally erasing the work of black women”, she told gal-dem earlier this week.

It serves as a reminder to creatives to protect your work and ideas from being ripped off by rich companies who take advantage of the fact that artists often can’t afford the costs of suing them.

Here’s what else went down in the past week:

Caribbean-dwelling John Cleese tweets that London is no longer ‘English’ but is warmly welcomed to Nevis

Seeing John Cleese spout such poisonous rhetoric this week was quite hard to read as a Fawlty Towers and Monty Python fan. The 79-year-old comedian and actor tweeted: “Some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city any more. Since then, virtually all my friends from abroad have confirmed my observation. So there must be some truth in it… I note also that London was the UK city that voted most strongly to remain in the EU”.

London is just as English as ever of course, but it has grown more multicultural with time. So, my guess is that John was alluding to the fact that London is not as white as it once was, even though at the last census white Brits were still the dominant ethnic group in the capital at 44.9%.

David Lammy has requested that the comedian doesn’t define Englishness by “DNA”, but instead by shared values. John says he was not being racist, just “culturalist”… Whatever that means. Oh, and don’t worry, he asked a handful of his (presumably) crusty old white friends and they agreed with him, “so there must be some truth in it”.

While John digs himself into a deeper racist Twitter hole from the sandy beaches of Nevis, the tax haven where he now lives, we spoke to the island’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, Mark Brantley, who had only warm words.

“Nevis is a melting pot that does attract wealthy people who want a low key holiday where the population is very welcoming and where they have some privacy. Mr Cleese is a welcome guest, as are others who come here for the weather and the lifestyle and beautiful country,” he said.

The minister was pleased to say Cleese has “fit right in on the island, going about the market and whatever he does”, and added that “our people are not people who gawk or harass celebrities, we respect their privacy and as a result, people like Mr Cleese feel at home here”.

Perhaps John could take a leaf or ten from his welcoming hosts who respect and accept him.

Miss India criticised for its line-up of fair-skinned contestants

Photography via The Times of India

Colourism in India reared its ugly head this week when the Miss India 2019 beauty pageant finalists were announced. The contestants share certain traits – they all have very light skin, dark straight hair, and are slim with subtle facial features.

Prasanna, a dark-skinned girl from Mumbai, told the BBC that despite Indians being “5000 shades of brown” the standard of beauty in India is a colonial hangover that even today “plays an important role in a girl’s life in”.

A lot of the women in the photo are from northern India, with very little representation of the south. Having a public institution declare such a narrow view of beauty serves to cement the already-cavernous lines of skin colour discrimination that exists.

Most Indian people, even first or second generations in other countries, will grow up with the word “fair” being constantly thrown around by elders when judging a woman’s beauty.
gal-dem has reached out to Miss India for comment, but is yet to receive a response.


• More than 10,000 race hate crimes have been directed at children in 2017/18 increasing by a fifth since the last year, research by the NSPCC on police figures shows.

• New Brexit Party MEP Anne Widdecombe and Tory leadership candidate Esther McVey have showcased their homophobia this week. Anne said on Sky News that “science may produce” a cure for homosexuality, while McVey said“parents know best” in reaction to the Birmingham protests against LGBTQI+ lessons.

• The High Court has banned the Birmingham school protests against LGBTQI+ lessons, meaning demonstrations and social media abuse must cease.

• By “accidentally” leaving her phone recording in audition rooms after she left, comedian Tiffany Haddish discovered the disgustingnature of casting in Hollywood. She claimed she overheard casting directors calling her “urban” or deciding to “just go with the white girl”.

• British Muslim organisations are calling on the government to increase funding to protect Muslims in the country as anti-Muslim hate crimes soar.

• The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission is facing demands from the Muslim Council of Britain to launch an inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party. This comes after the government’s refusal to adopt a proposed definition of Islamophobia.

• K-pop megaband BTS has become the first South Korean group to headline at Wembley Stadium.

• Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan hotel has been forced to apologise to rapper Meek Mill after he accused them of being “racist as hell” as they threatened him with arrest for trespassing when he attempted to enter the casino.

• New York will be unveiling its first trans monument in 2021 with statues of activists Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, to honour their contributions to the city’s gay liberation movement in the 1960s and 70s.

• Transgender health issues will no longer be considered mental health disorders by the World Health Organisation, a change that will have a “liberating effect worldwide” according to Human Rights Watch.

• Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari has appointed a transgender woman, Ayesha Moghul, to work in her department for the first time.

• Before the first episode of Love Island has even contestants are showcasing their prejudice. New islander Amber Gill, who is black mixed race, said she doesn’t “like black guys”.

• The University of Cambridge’s Jesus College has appointed a black woman as a master for the first time. Sonita Alleyne is a businesswoman and entrepreneur.

• Brexit campaigner Andy Wigmore has been disgustingly towards black Remain activist Femi Oluwole, tweeting that he resembles like Diane Abbott. Femi blames Nigel Farage for “unleashing racism”.

Moment of the week

North London record producer and visual artist Jai Paul has FINALLY released some new music after a six-year hiatus and we couldn’t be more excited about it.