Diversity or Tokenism? After years of shouting down, talking over, patronising, demeaning, insulting and gas lighting guests like Dr Shola and Afua Hirsh (both accomplished Black academics and women with independent voices), ITV is now looking for a Black host.
After making pantomimes of discussions on “race” instead of talking about it in a thoughtful, sensitive and respectful manner, ITV is now looking for a Black presenter. With years of having near all white hosts who don’t seem to have any comprehension of the Black or immigrant experience, ITV is now looking for a Black host.
A channel which uses Aunty Saira as the benchmark of diversity and uses jokey token sidekicks to perpetuate stereotypes. ITV has apparently grown a conscience now. I don’t buy it. Neither should you. ITV’s track record is there for all to see, on video clips and headlines forever archives on the internet.
It has staple hosts such as Eamonn Holmes, Piers Morgan, Lorraine Kelly and the panel of Loose Women ranting about the first non-white senior Royal, bar the occasional brave dissenting voice like or Jamilia Davies( who is Black and no longer on the show) and Denise Welch.
Eamonn Holmes famously used the term “uppity” to describe Meghan Markle. An old racist trope to describe Black people who according to the self appointed white gatekeepers, think too well of themselves and “behave” above “their station”. While he initially offered a lame and unequivocal apology for his utterances – the result of an “internal review” – Eamon Holmes later said he doesn’t like Meghan just by the “look” of her, and had several disparaging article to boot. Even though he has never met Meghan, he just doesn’t know why he dislikes her. I believe there is a name for that. He made it abundantly clear, through his outburst, that there was no room for objectivity, yet he has never had to explain himself or paid any penalty for this. I think ITV doesn’t mind at all.
Contrast that with Naga Manchetty, a journalist and woman of colour, who was investigated by the BBC and sanctioned for stating the obvious that Trump a racist – That telling Black and Brown American Citizens to ‘go back home’ is racist. But Eamon Holmes, as an old white man has not had to pay any penalty whatsoever for using racist trope and rants against a woman of colour. Such is white privilege. Such is British media.
Still on ITV, you have Lorraine Kelly and her sidekick Dan Wootton(from the SUN), whose job is to come on her show and blatantly lies to fit their narrative. Wootton has perfected the art of bending reality, and it suits Lorraine and ITVs purposes just fine. From lying that royals don’t guest-edit magazines, to recently saying that Madonna and Britney Spears are more popular than Meghan Markle. He is wrong of course. Prince Charles and Kate Middleton did edit magazines except no one was really interested. Lorraine who I used to respect as a decent interviewer, knows her sidekick was lying but never corrected the record.
Lies aside, their unvarnished bias was evident when during the segment, they emphasised that Meghan is “polished” and thus wants to be in the limelight. They harped on the “polished” part, as though it is anomalous for a woman of colour to be intelligent, and present herself impeccably in every aspect of her life/work.
Following People magazine article in which Meghan’s friends defended her from the British media bullying, the problematic duo lamented; “whose friends would say lovely things about them like that?” Who do these two hang around? Well I don’t know how bigoted, pretentious people in the media conduct friendships but as an East London Asian woman with some true ride or die friends, I know my sisters will burn the place down if anyone attacked me unfairly. And vice versa. That’s just how we roll!
Lorraine Kelly who doesn’t have any experience of knowing what it is like to live in the skin of a woman of colour, foreign to the country, being attacked relentlessly everyday by mass media while being pregnant, complained that Prince Harry and wife Meghan “are making us look bad”. Not only that, but Lorraine also said that it was “unfair to say that the United Kingdom is racist”. Such confidence about something so personal and something she will never be subjected to or have experience of.
What presumption and arrogance for someone like her to tell someone like me, or millions of other British people of colour that experience racism in the UK. It is important to note, that compared to her denials of racism in the UK, Lorraine has never spoken out at the countless racial attacks that Meghan has received.
Camilla Tominey who writes hit pieces for The Telegraph propaganda, and then puts on a smiley, ever so polite demeanour for the camera is a regular “expert” guest on another ITV morning show. I don’t know, but ITV seems to have a type. She appeared on an episode once with Dr Shola, when the hosts Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby said they could not see any evidence of racism towards Meghan Markle. Very strange. They must have been oblivious to the catalogue of speculative, nasty articles full of lies, mischaracterizations and innuendo, including linking her work to a terrorist cell, that their “expert” Camilla has written about Meghan. Also the number of times Camilla Tominey had appeared on Australian TV to spew lies and propaganda about Meghan.
ITV hosts often complain Prince Harry and wife Meghan make UK look racist to the outside world. A strange position to take, considering that, until they left the UK, and even for the most part since they left, the British media has had more to say about every microscopic detail about their lives, work, choices, marriage and what have you, than couple themselves. How exactly the couple “make them look racist” by just living while the British media obsess over their every move, may require some alternate universe type analysis. I guess like many snowflake racist people, these ITV hosts consider being called a “racist” worse than the act of racism itself.
I understand professional trolls like Camilla Tominey, masquerading as “journalists” are frustrated racists who have made a lot of money of the back of victimising a pregnant woman of colour. I understand a lot of the times these people are extremely bitter and have seriously dysfunctional, deeply unhappy personal lives and live of the coat tails of the Royal Family. The question is, why the choice of these “experts” by ITV though? And do the hosts not do any research on the topics they cover?
ITV also has shows like “Loose Women” where the panel have been known to get extremely emotional and excited over Prince Harry and wife Meghan. The common narrative has been Meghan should just suck it up and take the abuse because she is so lucky to be in the Royal Family. These same women often talk about their own mental health wellbeing issues over much more light weight stuff than onslaught of undue scrutiny and abuse from mass media and a section of the public. It’s basically hosted by a bunch of “Karens” who are very delicate about themselves, but unfairly brutal about a young woman of colour in a very unique situation. One of them has written many articles about how Prince Harry will be welcome back if he leaves his wife and child in US. Maliciousness much? I wonder how many times she has taken pen to paper to say the same about an all-white couple?
I may not agree or personally like someone, I still would never wish for a family unit to break up. The panel in general cannot get over the fact that someone may reject being in the Royal Family, or an active member at least. I’ve got news for them.
Being in the British Royal Family is not that big a deal to people outside the demography of “Loose Women”. The only reason people like me, children of the Commonwealth became interested recently was because of Meghan, who had her wedding veil embroidered with flowers of the Commonwealth to include people like myself. Now that she is gone, I don’t care. Further, I know too much of my history to revere the Royal Family because see the monarchy for the racist institution it has revealed itself to be. It didn’t like Princess Diana for caring for land mines, children with AIDs, and causes that affected African and South Asian sub-continent. It hated her for having a Pakistani boyfriend. And the establishment bodies literally drove her to death for courting an Arab one. Yes, the Royal Family and press don’t like inclusion at the top.
When Loose Women discussed their disgust that a pregnant Meghan would not be opting having a photoshoot in front of the world’s press hours after giving birth. Anne Diamond demanded that she does so because she is “public property”. Imagine, in this day and age, in a country that prides itself on abolishing slavery, a white woman calls a black biracial woman “property” because she wanted to rest after giving birth instead of parading in heels and blow-dried hair. Loose Women spent a whole segment once discussing why the UK has the right to know who Prince Archie’s grandparents were. As it turned out, no one in the panel could name Prince George, the future king’s God Parents. Oh! the obsession over the mixed-race Prince with a foreign mother.
Janet Street Porter, a self proclaimed “class warrior”, said on the Loose Women( ITV) show “I wish Meghan would just shut up”. I guess the brand of liberty is only reserved for white women in particular. It’s not like Meghan Markle was giving hate speeches. Janet Street Porter doesn’t extend her compassion to working class people like the Grenfell victims who Meghan was trying to support and highlight. They are not the kind of working class people Janet Street Porter advocates for and Meghan isn’t white enough to have rights Janet Street Porter enjoys.
Going back to the subject of hosts with agendas I will not even touch on Piers Morgan’s creepy, unhinged obsession with Meghan Markle, also on ITV. It is well documented. I will mention Piers Morgan mimicked chinese accent on TV recently. It is well known for those of us who care, the hate crimes for the Chinese communities in US have sky rocketed since the pandemic. I have heard some nasty stories in UK too but the British media has not given it any air. Imagine having a platform on ITV and making fun of the same community being stigmatised like that? Well we don’t have to imagine it because ITV allowed it.
Susanna Reid, who is describes herself as a “feminist” sits next to Piers Morgan day after day, giggles and rolls her eyes while he goes on his unhinged anti-Meghan tirades, and occasionally playfully challenges him. These “strong women” have a high tolerance level for observing racism, bullying and misogyny.
Personally I couldn’t stomach that. I had British Chinese flat mates all through three years of my university and have personal close friends of that background. Also, my people from South Asian community often suffer from language barriers. We watched our parents get discriminated against and made fun of for being “different” and ridiculed for their accents, so it’s a bit more personal to me.
But it shouldn’t have to be personal to anyone for them to know it’s wrong. This kind of cruelty is not funny. It has repercussions. But it doesn’t bother ITV.
Piers Morgan’s treatment of Afua Hirsh (a true fearless warrior princess of our time) in her last appearance I hear was disturbing. I usually do my research meticulously, but this one I could not actually bring myself to watch. I’ve heard from others how it went down and that was enough. ITV is not only fine with its older white male hosts name calling, ranting, criticising, scrutinising, obsessing over women of colour, but also being verbally aggressive at women of colour in person.
When a network of 100 professional Black women wrote an open letter to ITV complaining about Piers Morgan’s hate ranting about Meghan, ITV just ignored it. That’s what the channel thinks of its Black female audience. Black women get slandered and abused. Asian and Muslim women are erased. Only very occasionally are we called upon to discuss if we should wear a hijab or a burkha, or not. When we do have these original (NOT) Muslim talking slots they often go to a random white convert woman.
ITV has not only courted open racists, but also paedophile and sex trafficker apologists too. Guests like Lady Colin Campbell and Lady Victoria have been an eye opener. Lady Colin came on the show to say how she didn’t consider the very young women from poor working class backgrounds and broken families, who were groomed and trafficked and used by Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Andrew as victims, but prostitutes. She recently shamed Philip Schofield too for his handling of his personal life that was not cool.
Lady Victoria, another “society lady” said to Piers Morgan she did not see anything untoward in her party days with Epstein and Andrew. It’s funny because all the house staff, security guards for neighbours, maintenance person said they did so or were bound to Non-Disclosure Agreements. It’s interesting that the actual wealthy guests who frequented the paedophile island, the parties, the houses, the Lolita Express never saw anything. Lady Victoria Harvey stated “its not like they were 12 year olds chained to a radiator”. Imagine that! It’s alright because it’s all white.
Looking collectively at all the various ITV shows that have gone out of their way to be hostile to Meghan, its apparent that the network has been deeply engaged in or at the very least co-signed a smear campaign against Meghan Markle (while being a new bride, pregnant and as a first-time mum) and continues to do so now. By doing so, ITV has contributed not only to the dehumanising of Meghan Markle but black people in general.
It would be interesting to see the amount of time ITV daytime shows has dedicated to celebrate accomplishments of women of colour, or people of colour period. The contribution made to sports, music, popular culture, education by the Black community, the GDP generated and service given to NHS by the Asian and immigrant community as opposed to the time it has dedicated to the scrutinising and berating of Meghan and other people of colour. I am going to guess a big fat zero. I am also going to take a wild guess that there are no senior People of Colour at the top.
I avoid watching ITV programmes now and encourage my friends to do the same. ITV entertains a middle-aged, frumpy, Brexit loving demography who bask in their right. There is no real representation for someone like myself anyway. With a younger, more politically conscientious generation coming up who access news from social media, independent outlets it will eventually lose their relevance. “Loose Women” is ageing badly like the hosts and the audience they serve.
There was a recent report that the group of Murdoch owned British media were to be “forced” to undergo diversity training. This is the same pool that ITV likes to procure their faux royal experts from. The story however goes on to say that, the audience is primarily anti-diversity and anti-inclusion so, diversity training or any diversity measures are likely to be bad for business.
For once we get the truth. The British media sustain this model of hostility to people of different backgrounds, religions, etc because it is pays. Intolerance is their currency. It totally makes sense then, that ITV continues to contribute to the drip feed into the dehumanisation of minorities every day. Black people are obsessed over, appropriated and monetised. Asian people, Muslims and immigrant communities are stereotyped or minimised. Chinese people are caricatured or erased.
The hiring of one Black presenter will not suddenly right the wrongs of ITV. Neither will it instil a conscience or open-mindedness in their programming. Whenever they have had the opportunity to have “minority” guests, their hosts are nothing but hostile on issues of importance to “minorities”. It’s that simple. It is their culture and that is how they roll.
Did I say that ITV is looking for a Black host? I think their pressing needs should be a healthy dose of ethics first, and then a re-programming of the colonial mindsets. Otherwise, save the token hire the emotional and mental distress that is sure to come.